Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin

Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin

By WNYC Studios

Alec Baldwin brings listeners into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers.

Episodes

New York City's Post-COVID Future

In the midst of a crisis it can be healthy to think of what comes after.  In this episode of Here's the Thing, two of the most influential New Yorkers when it comes to long-term economic planning join Alec to discuss whether the current economic crisis will end quickly when businesses can reopen, or whether instead it's the start of a longer decline.  Kathryn Wylde is a veteran of the urban renewal battles of the 1980s and currently the head of the city's elite business consortium, the Partnership for New York City.  She worries that what makes New York special will now be associated with the spread of disease: its dense population and communal spaces like theaters, museums, bars, and vibrant workplaces.  Tom Wright's organization, the influential Regional Plan Association, is reshaping its long-term vision for the city based on the potential for reduced growth -- but Wright says that New York is well positioned to get back on track thanks to its experience overcoming past crises like 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.
19/05/2035m 19s

In Memoriam: Wynn Handman

Over a 70-year career, Wynn Handman added sharpness and craft to the natural talents of actors including Christopher Walken, Allison Janney, Raul Julia, Richard Gere, James Caan, Anna Deveare Smith, Joanne Woodward, and Mia Farrow.  The World War II veteran studied acting on the GI bill and fell in with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in 1946, when the "playhouse" was still two floors of an office building west of Times Square.  In this remarkable conversation, Handman tells Alec about his experiences with Meisner, Lee Strasberg, and his many students -- as well as growing up in the 1920s in a Manhattan neighborhood where the streets still had not been paved.  Handman died of complications from COVID-19 on April 11, 2020.
14/05/2028m 23s

Brian De Palma on Scarface, Mission: Impossible, and the Movie He Made in College

Brian De Palma's astonishingly diverse hits as a director include Blow Out, Scarface, The Untouchables, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Raising Cain, Carlito’s Way, and Mission: Impossible.  He wrote many of those screenplays, too.  With his distinctive visual style and proven box office success, he's among the undeniable greats of both auteur and commercial filmmaking.  In this live interview, he tells Alec about getting his start in directing as an undergrad at Columbia, and has stories from Blow Out, Scarface and Mission: Impossible.  In 2019, the Hamptons International Film Festival gave De Palma its Lifetime Achievement Award; this conversation was part of the ceremony.
05/05/2033m 16s

Daryl Hall Invites Alec In

Hall & Oates is the biggest-selling vocal duo in history.  "Maneater," "Rich Girl," "You Make My Dreams Come True," and countless other hits will be beloved for generations.  So Daryl Hall has long been at the top of Alec's Most Wanted list for Here's the Thing.  When the conversation finally took place this past December, it was on Hall's home-turf:  Daryl's House, his restaurant and music-venue in Pawling, NY.  In a conversation interspersed with some classic recordings, Hall talks about his teen years in suburban Pennsylvania singing doo-wop on the streets with his friends -- a far cry from the rock-star life he was leading 15 years later.  For that transition to happen, he first had to meet John Oates.  That happened in 1967 when a gunfight broke out at a club they had both been performing at.  Their fate was sealed:  the two kept up a rigorous concert schedule until this year, when coronavirus put a temporary end to public gatherings.  You can still hear their later work on this new vinyl release of their masterful album of soul standards, Our Kind of Soul.  Or tune in to AXS for Hall's hit show Live from Daryl's House.  On each episode, he brings another big-name musician up to the club in Pawling and they jam together.
21/04/2040m 1s

In Memoriam: Patricia Bosworth

Alec and Patti Bosworth became friends serving together on the board of the Actors Studio.  When Bosworth died of complications from COVID-19, it wasn't just a loss to the literary and theatrical worlds; it was also personal for Alec and the rest of Bosworth's wide circle of friends and family.  Not just a legendary Hollywood biographer, Bosworth also released an impossible-to-put-down memoir in two parts about her glamorous, tragic personal life and her time with the biggest names in Hollywood and the literary world.  Characters range from Marlon Brando to Mario Puzo to Robert Frost.  When Bosworth published the second installment of that memoir, The Men in My Life, in 2017, it was natural for her to stop by Here's the Thing to tell some of the stories in person, including her transition from Hollywood leading lady to respected journalist.  We're honored to re-release that conversation today.
16/04/2039m 2s

Anjelica Huston on Modeling, Movie-Making, and a Life in the Spotlight

Anjelica Huston has lived many lives, all with grace and charisma.  As the daughter of John Huston (director of The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, and more) she was movie royalty from birth.  But she grew up in rural Ireland and went to high school in Swinging-Sixties London.  That meant she developed a set of values far removed from Hollywood high society.  Her first career was as a high-end fashion model, a favorite subject of Richard Avedon and later a muse of Halston.  But she had always wanted to be a movie actress, and she spent time in the trenches, working on her craft in classes and smaller roles before her Oscar-winning turn in Prizzi's Honor.  Right as she was leaving the photo studio for the movie studio, she met Jack Nicholson:  "he made me laugh," she tells Alec.  The couple defined Hollywood cool for almost two decades.  Huston tells Alec the story of all of her transitions -- romantic, professional, and geographic.  Her two wonderful memoirs are A Story Lately Told and Watch Me.
07/04/2048m 18s

Butch Walker's Awesomely Diverse Rock Résumé

Butch Walker is one of rock and roll's biggest talents, and on May 8th, he'll be releasing his new album -- a rock opera called American Love Story.  You can preview one of the songs on today's episode of Here's the Thing, taped live last month (just before coronavirus made such gatherings impossible) at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.  In the 1990s, Walker got major-label contracts and radio-play as the guitarist for the "hair band" SouthGang, and later as front-man of the edgy, grunge-tinged Marvelous 3.  But Walker's career has evolved.  Not only is he making beautiful solo work, but he's also become one of LA's most sought-after partners in music-making, having produced or written songs for artists ranging from P!nk to Green Day to Panic! at the Disco.  It's been a long road from his life as an 8-year-old Kiss fan in rural Georgia, and Walker has accumulated great stories along the way, including what it was like to be the first American rock band to tour (and get kicked out of) China. Thanks to Zach McNees for mixing the music in this episode.
31/03/201h 0m

Eliza Shapiro on School Closures, the Big Picture -- and Probably Getting Coronavirus

New York Times reporter Eliza Shapiro ranks high on the list of the most powerful people in education because "no one on the education beat is a sharper – or more effective – thorn in the side of city officials."  Over the course of a lively conversation with Alec taped before the pandemic, she broke down all the major issues in education policy, from unions to charters to racial equality, and tackled Mayor Bill De Blasio's rollback of Mike Bloomberg's education reforms. But since they spoke, Shapiro has arguably become New York City parents' most important source of information about what's going on with the city's schools as they ground to a halt with the coronavirus pandemic.  So we called her up yesterday and asked her what she knew and how school closures everywhere affect much more than just students' education.  Plus she recounts her own likely bout with the virus!
20/03/2052m 38s

Revealing Barry Sonnenfeld

Barry Sonnenfeld was among Hollywood's most in-demand cinematographers (Big, When Harry Met Sally, Misery) when he decided to make the switch to directing in 1991.  The producers were nervous, but the proof was in the pudding: Sonnenfeld's directorial debut was The Addams Family, one of the year's most successful comedies.  From there, Sonnenfeld went on to direct Get Shorty, the Men in Black series, and some brilliant TV like The Tick and A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Now he's written a memoir, Barry Sonnenfeld Call Your Mother, in which he tells with humor and compassion the surprisingly harrowing story of his childhood -- and, of course, dishes on his colleagues in Hollywood.  With Alec he goes beyond what's in the book about what went down on the sets of Big, Misery, Wild Wild West and Men in Black.
10/03/2039m 1s

The Luminous Kelli O'Hara

For more than a decade, Kelli O'Hara has been at the very top of the Broadway heap.  She gets called "luminous" so often that it must get really very, very tiring.  It's been a remarkable journey for a kid who grew up on a farm in western Oklahoma and cut her teeth doing repertory theater in Wichita.  She tells Alec her story, with a fascinating, surprising twist: she deeply loves Broadway but wants to branch out, and says she's struggled to do so.
25/02/2035m 23s

Russ Tamblyn, from DeMille to David Lynch

Russ Tamblyn was born in Los Angeles in the middle of the Depression to a chorus girl and a Broadway "song and dance man."  His father had moved his growing family west to press his luck in the talkies.  Russ was a showbiz kid and found his talent young:  Cecil B DeMille cast him as the young King Saul in Samson and Delilah when he was just 13 years old.  Stardom came at 19 in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where he stole scenes with his goofy enthusiasm and astonishingly acrobatic dancing.  But the role that will go down in history is Riff in West Side Story.  Tamblyn took a part that could have been just a young tough, and imbued it with such nuance, such balance between aggression and vulnerability, that every Riff since has been held up to him.  In this funny, revealing conversation, Tamblyn tells Alec what it was like being part of the old Hollywood contract system (he was an MGM property) -- plus which major Golden Age director was "overrated," and why he didn't stay a movie star.  And of course, Tamblyn recounts his return to featured roles at the request of David Lynch, who cast him as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby in Twin Peaks.
11/02/2036m 3s

The Oscars Series, Day 5: For Sama, This Year's Most Powerful Documentary

This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- and, today, with a pair of 2020 nominees.  They are Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, the co-directors of For Sama, which is up for Best Documentary Feature.  It's a movie pieced together from more than 500 hours of footage shot by Al-Kateab, a young mother in rebel-controlled Aleppo, Syria, as government troops closed in.  For Sama is about what it's like for an ordinary, middle-class family to conceive and raise a child in a city under siege.  As the San Francisco Chronicle puts it, "For Sama is a film made with the instincts of a journalist, the passion of a revolutionary, and the beating heart of a mother."  Watts, Waad, and Waad's husband, Dr. Hamza Al-Kateab, joined Alec at a live taping of Here's the Thing at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
07/02/2033m 14s

The Oscars Series, Day 4: Spike Lee

This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview, coming tomorrow, with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  Today, on Day 4 of our Oscars series, it's our live event with Spike Lee at the TriBeCa Film Festival.  The two movie-veterans came prepared for a serious discussion about Place in the Sun and On the Waterfront, but get distracted very quickly.  As BET put it in their roundup of the conversation, "The iconic director held nothing back."  Spike Lee's first Oscar, shockingly, came last year for his BlacKkKlansman screenplay.
06/02/2048m 45s

The Oscars Series Day 3: Julianne Moore

This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama, coming Friday.  For Day 3 of our series, we bring you our Julianne Moore episode, in which she and Alec bond over their shared past in soap operas.  Moore won her Oscar in 2015 for playing an Alzheimer's patient in Still Alice.
05/02/2052m 4s

The Oscars Series, Day 2: Cameron Crowe

This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  For our second installment, we bring you the Here's the Thing episode that may have generated our most enthusiastic listener feedback.  That's Alec's conversation with director, screenwriter, and Rolling Stone journalist Cameron Crowe -- punctuated with great songs from Crowe's films.  Crowe won his Oscar in 2001 for his screenplay for Almost Famous.  
04/02/2044m 18s

The Oscars Series, Day 1: Barbra Streisand

This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview coming Friday with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  We begin, however, with a reprise of one of the HTT team's all-time favorite episodes, in which Alec enjoys a little miso soup at the home of Barbra Streisand in Malibu.  Streisand has won two Oscars:  first in 1969 for her turn as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, and then again in 1977 for her Best Original Song “Evergreen” from A Star Is Born.
03/02/2052m 7s

Kantor and Twohey: The Reporters Who Broke the Harvey Weinstein Story

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.  For five months -- perpetually in danger of losing the scoop -- they cultivated and cajoled sources ranging from the Weinsteins’ accountant to Ashley Judd.  The article that emerged on October 5th, 2017, was a level-headed and impeccably sourced exposé, whose effects continue to be felt around the world.  Their conversation with Alec covers their reporting process, and moves on to a joint wrestling with Alec’s own early knowledge of one of the Weinstein allegations, and his ongoing friendship with accused harasser James Toback.  The guests ask Alec questions about the movie industry’s ethics about sex and “the casting couch.”  Over a respectful and surprising half-hour, host and guests together talk through the many dilemmas posed by the #MeToo movement that Kantor and Twohey did so much to unleash.
21/01/2035m 54s

Wynton Marsalis, Keeper of the Jazz Flame

Wynton Marsalis was on the cover of Time as the avatar of the "New Jazz Age."  His central role in reviving the genre is thanks partly to his gorgeous, virtuosic trumpet-playing, and partly to his founding of Jazz at Lincoln Center.  JALC established jazz at the heart of American high culture.  That "officialness" turned off some jazz musicians: wasn't their music supposed to be looser, smaller?  But Marsalis tells Alec that the desire to relegate jazz to small underground clubs is "ghettoizing."  In front of a live audience at JALC's Rose Hall, Marsalis also goes deep with Alec about his father's influence -- and his racially fraught interactions with professors and conductors at Juilliard when he showed up from Louisiana in 1979.
07/01/2037m 53s

Julie Andrews, Revisited

We often think of Julie Andrews as the prim nanny from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, but her personal path may have the greatest resemblance to one of her Broadway roles: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Andrews grew up in a family strapped for cash during the Second World War, and her initial training as an actor was in the less-than-prestigious field of vaudeville. But right before opening night of her breakout role in The Boy Friend, it was producer Cy Feuer’s advice that we have to thank, in large part, for the level of excellence Andrews has brought to musical film and theater for generations. “Forget camp,” he told her. “Get real.”
24/12/1950m 1s

Noah Baumbach Gets Personal in Marriage Story

Director Noah Baumbach is known for messy and realistic family dramas. The Squid and The Whale chronicles divorce within a family; Margot at the Wedding explores the relationship between two sisters; The Meyerowitz Stories tells the story of 3 adult siblings – different mothers, same father – negotiating resentment and love. And there have been plenty of comparisons between Baumbach’s own life and his movies – especially so with his most recent film, Marriage Story. Baumbach and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh divorced soon after they had a child. But Baumbach is quick to say his films are not autobiographical. They are personal, he says, and as he tells Alec, the process of turning real life into films is part of how Baumbach makes sense of things around him.
10/12/1937m 25s

Is Cristina Tzintzun Texas Democrats' Best Bet for the Senate?

The last Democrat elected to the Senate seat Cristina Tzintzun has her sights on was Lyndon Johnson.  Republican takeovers are just a fact of life in the South.  And yet in some places, there's light at the end of the tunnel for beleaguered Dems.  It's in the Lone Star State that they hope to reverse the trend.  Texas is urbanizing, and it's getting more educated and more diverse.  Tzintzun -- a political organizer who's the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and an Anglo-Texan -- tells Alec that by activating those Democratic base constituencies, she can win where others have failed.  It's a trail begun by Beto O’Rourke, who almost won the state’s other Senate seat back for the Democrats in 2018, but it's a perilous strategy, too, in a state as conservative as Texas.  Much of Beto's team has come over to help Tzintzun, and full disclosure: Alec, too, is a supporter, and hosted a fundraiser for her in October.
26/11/1934m 44s

And Another Thing, with Errol Morris

Alec wanted to know a few more things about Errol Morris's work -- so he set up a call!
22/11/1916m 5s

Errol Morris on Steve Bannon, Self-Loathing, and Life as a Private Eye

Errol Morris’s documentaries are visually unmistakable, whether they’re about pet cemeteries or the morally bankrupt "great men" of American history.  Thanks to his optical invention, the "Interrotron," Morris's subjects’ are looking straight at those of us in the movie theater and, sometimes, lying.  He’s one of cinema’s most distinctive storytellers.  In conversation with Alec, Morris recounts his meandering path to the top, involving deep debt, a master's degree in Philosophy, and a stint as a private investigator.  "Film-making saved me," he says.  Morris also responds to the heated controversy surrounding his new documentary, American Dharma, about Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, rejecting the argument that it was wrong to provide Bannon a platform for his ideas.
12/11/1947m 18s

Edward Norton on Directing – and His Directors

Edward Norton gets into every aspect of filmmaking, even when he comes to the set as an actor.  He's helped rewrite scripts, and sometimes gets intimately involved in editing, as was the case with American History X.  That has led to tension with directors, but Norton tells Alec that the Hollywood press has grossly mischaracterized many of those relationships.  Norton himself directed Alec recently in his new film, Motherless Brooklyn.  Norton stars alongside Alec's Robert Moses character, who tries to bend New York City to his will.  Their shared experience on set sparks a conversation about directing, and all the great directors Norton has worked with, including Spike Lee, David Fincher, Tony Kaye, and Miloš Forman.  A "cheat sheet" of all the movies and directors Edward and Alec discussed, in order, is available at https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/heresthething/edwardandalec.
29/10/1939m 22s

Judith Light Once Told Her Agent, "No Soaps, No Sitcoms"

Judith Light has an unequaled emotional and tonal range as an actor.  She also has a shape-shifting physicality that made her entirely convincing both as the shuffling yenta Shelly Pfefferman in Transparent and as the lithe, aristocratic Hedda Gabler.  But she only got to exercise those talents by saying "yes" to a lot of less intricate roles -- most famously the housewife-prostitute Karen Wolek on One Life to Live and Type-A divorcée Angela Bower on Who's the Boss.  Her manager (a former Psychology professor) helped her arrive at that place of openness.  After a few bad auditions, he sat her down and said, "You have an expectation that people should just be giving you stuff, and it's untenable.  People feel it.  You walk into a room and nobody wants to be around you."  "And so," Light tells Alec, "when I walked into the audition for Who's the Boss, I was in a very different place."
15/10/1938m 0s

Peter Bergman, King of the Soaps

Peter Bergman is the dean of soap opera actors.  His portrayal of Dr. Cliff Warner on All My Children from 1979 to 1989 overlapped precisely with the era when soap operas were America's great guilty pleasure.  Liz Taylor made cameos alongside Bergman, mainstream publications covered Dr. Warner's many marriages, and the soaps sometimes rivaled prime time in total viewers.  Madison Avenue noticed, and Bergman entered the pitchman pantheon with his cough syrup ad in 1986, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."  Since 1989, the soaps have been less central to popular culture, but Bergman has played a much richer character than the debonair doctor:  his last 30 years have been spent playing Jack Abbott on The Young and the Restless.  Jack is the mercurial head of Jabot Cosmetics, trying to triumph in love and industry over his rival Victor Newman.  Alec and Bergman bond over their shared past as high school athletes who found themselves attracted to the stage, and over the joys and difficulties of daytime television.
01/10/1946m 41s

Lang Lang Plays

Dubbed “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” by The New York Times, pianist Lang Lang has reached a level of stardom rare for classical musicians.  But his prominence is hard-won.  Alec, who adores Lang Lang's charisma and talent, elicits from his guest stories of hardship during his childhood in northeastern China, and of his slow climb to the top, via Philadelphia.  That's where fish-out-of-water Lang Lang showed up at the age of 15 and enrolled in public high school as well as conservatory.  Throughout the interview, Lang Lang plays pieces from his latest album, Piano Book, a collection of pieces normally reserved for young learners, reinterpreted with brilliance and respect by the great master.  And we at WNYC add more of our favorites from Piano Book and beyond.
17/09/1947m 45s

James Caan: Last of the Tough-Guy Movie Stars

At the end of the 1950s, James Caan, son of a German-Jewish butcher, had been kicked out of ROTC and was too poor to finish college on his own. He started a job for his godfather unpacking meat along the docks of the Hudson River. Less than a decade later, he was starring alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in El Dorado, just a few years from Coppola's giving him a lead in The Godfather. In his unmistakable Queens patois, Caan tells Alec the wonderful, unlikely story of his rise to stardom. That story includes his many marriages, even more fistfights, and heretofore untold details from the sometimes-violent set of The Godfather. Plus what sort of roles Caan wanted but didn't get because of typecasting.
03/09/1948m 39s

How to Run a Small-Town Paper When Your Town Is East Hampton

Since 2004, 1300 towns across America have lost local newspaper coverage.  2004 was also the first full year David Rattray, the third generation of his family to own the East Hampton Star, served as the paper's editor.  It's a job for which Rattray gave up a very different life and career in New York City.  That was a good choice:  thanks in part to his stewardship, the Star thrives.  It covers East Hampton's seasonal transformation into the center of an elite New York social universe, but other than that, the venerable weekly operates much as it always has.  Rattray makes sure Town Board meetings get covered and that the Fishing Report is up to date -- as did his parents, and his grandfather before them.  Alec has been spending time in East Hampton for almost 40 years, so he and Rattray have much to discuss about the paper, and the changes they've witnessed in town.  They also discuss the Star's long-term project to research and confront the Hamptons' slaveholding past -- a past in which Rattray's own ancestors played a part.
27/08/1935m 9s

Donna Schaper, Radical Reverend

The Reverend Donna Schaper of New York's Judson Memorial Church leads her flock of 300 through life's sacraments like any pastor.  But she has a national profile, too, appearing in print and on television to reject the idea that Christian values necessarily lead to conservative politics.  She tells Alec her story of spiritual awakening, from an abusive working-class home, to parting ways from the Lutheran Church of her childhood, all the way to Judson Memorial Church, a Christian outpost in Greenwich Village that ministers to sex workers, doubters, LGBT folk, the undocumented, and Village gentry alike.  Alec in return tells Donna about his own journey of faith.
20/08/1938m 30s

Matthew Landfield's Wildly Deep History of His Childhood Home

Alec Baldwin and Matthew Landfield crossed paths one time before their Here's the Thing interview.  In early 2001, Alec was shooting a movie in front of 31 Desbrosses Street in New York's Tribeca neighborhood.  Matthew had grown up in the building in the 1980s, raised by a performance-artist mom and modernist-painter father.  Matthew and Alec said hello as Matthew walked in to visit his parents.  The bohemian scene on the block stuck with Alec over the years -- so much so that when in 2015 he was driving by and noticed that the building was gone, he researched what had happened.  Online, Alec discovered Matthew's labor of love: perhaps the best, most deeply researched article ever written about a single address.  The Lenape, the Dutch, the English, the factory workers, junkies, artists and bankers -- every stage of New York history had some brush with the land (or water) that is now 31 Desbrosses.  Alec was transfixed, and this funny, fascinating conversation is the result.
13/08/1937m 48s

A Major Conservatory President Who Knows the Life of a Working Musician

Six years ago the Board of the Manhattan School of Music faced a daunting decision: who would guide the school into its second century?  They turned to someone with a long history with the school, James Gandre.  Gandre joined MSM as an administrative assistant in the mid-1980s and rose through the ranks.  But before then, he'd been auditioning for gigs as a tenor with symphonies and choirs.  He continued to do so even after he began in administration.  He tells Alec about his journey from small-town Wisconsin, to being an out gay man in San Francisco in the early 80s, to his long rise through the ranks at MSM -- and he shares his thoughts on the future of his venerable institution.
06/08/1942m 13s

Brian Lehrer Comes to Here's the Thing

Brian Lehrer is a unique figure in the public life of New York City.  Beyond hosting the city's defining daily talk show, he's our conscience and our conciliator.  When New Yorkers want a fair mayoral debate, they often call Brian.  When WNYC needed someone to help us process our own #metoo moment, we called Brian.  The Peabody Awards honored The Brian Lehrer Show for "reuniting the estranged terms 'civil' and 'discourse.'"  Of course, civil doesn't mean soft:  he can be unsparing in his interviews because, as he tells Alec, "there's plenty that pisses me off."  Alec is fan of -- and a regular caller on -- Brian's show, so who better to turn the tables?  Alec interviews Brian about his path to prominence, and the two discuss their shared love of radio, and of New York.
23/07/1935m 3s

Julie Brown UPDATED: Acosta's Epstein Explanations Are "Ridiculous," "Disingenuous"

Alexander Acosta has resigned from his position as Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration.  That's because of the sweetheart deal he cut politically connected financier Jeffrey Epstein back in 2008, when Acosta was a federal prosecutor.  In the swirl of news following Epstein's re-arrest, but before the Acosta resignation, Julie Brown stepped out of Acosta's press conference to speak to Alec on the phone.  We learn her reaction and that of Epstein's victims who called her up after the arrest.  That conversation is at the end of an extended cut of their live conversation at the Greene Space this spring and a phone call from Alan Dershowitz addressing the accusations made against him.
12/07/1957m 12s

These Three People Say They Can Fix the Subway

Corey Johnson wants to be the next mayor of New York, and the press seems to think he will be.  His plan to fix transit is the centerpiece of his platform.  Tom Wright is the CEO of the powerful Regional Plan Association.  That organization imagines the future and comes up with ideas for infrastructure and bureaucracy that could meet its needs.  Nicole Gelinas, a reporter and a Manhattan Institute scholar of Urban Economics, also believes in big, innovative projects.  But for the past 15 years, she's been reminding New Yorkers that we will not get a transit system worthy of our great city if we cannot get costs under control, and our financial house in order.  Combine these three experts with Alec's curiosity and strong opinions about all things New York, and you get a great conversation about congestion pricing, organized labor, the MTA, and future of transportation everywhere.
09/07/1943m 55s

Adam Schiff Tells All: Could Have Gone to Med School, Mom Livid

California Congressman Adam Schiff weighs both sides of the impeachment debate and speaks out forcefully on Iran.  Plus why his childhood in Massachusetts had an influence on his future career, why his his mother was so disappointed that he went to law school instead of medical school, and whether President Trump has done more to encourage or discourage aspiring progressive public servants.
25/06/1935m 44s

How Julie Brown Broke Open the Jeffrey Epstein Story

Julie Brown of the Miami Herald conceived, reported, and wrote one of the most explosive criminal justice stories in recent memory. She revealed the shutting down of an FBI investigation that may have been on the verge of discovering the full extent of a child-sex-trafficking operation run by politically-connected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The prosecutor allegedly behind that decision, Alex Acosta, is now President Trump's Secretary of Labor.  Acosta offered Epstein a plea deal in which Epstein pleaded guilty to recruiting underage girls for sex and spent about a year in the local lockup, with work release.  The deal also proactively protected from prosecution any potential co-conspirators.  Brown pored over internal emails to see exactly how Acosta and other powerful law-enforcement officials made these decisions.  While in New York to receive a Polk Award for her work, Brown stopped by WNYC's Greene Space to talk to Alec about her reporting, and the personal background that drove it.
11/06/1948m 45s

Moby on Living Large and Falling Hard

Moby had already put out four studio albums when Play was released in 1999. He was solidly into his 30s, playing gigs in record stores and thinking about a career-change. But Play, against all expectations, started selling. Then it started selling out. There was champagne, then vodka, then cocaine. He swung between drug-induced euphoria and thoughts of suicide. The stories of stardom he tells Alec are both funny and troubling. But Moby saw his way out of the spiral. Now a decade without drugs or alcohol, he's remarkably open about his darkness, and the weird hippie childhood that laid the groundwork for it. He and Alec sat down last month and swapped stories of sobriety and celebrity. Moby's new memoir is Then It Fell Apart.
28/05/1950m 22s

Jeff Daniels Was Supposed to Take Over the Family Lumber Business

By 1976, college student Jeff Daniels was pretty sure he didn't want to follow his father into the Michigan lumber trade.  But he wasn't sure he could make it as a working actor -- until one of the founders of Manhattan's legendary Circle Repertory Company spotted him at Eastern Michigan University.  It was a short hop from Circle Rep to his screen breakthrough in Terms of Endearment, but Daniels' commitment to the stage has never waned.  That commitment bore a Tony nomination this year (Daniels' third) for his magnificent performance in Aaron Sorkin's To Kill a Mockingbird adaptation on Broadway.  Daniels and Alec discuss the craft required to play Atticus Finch, the very different craft required to play alongside Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber, and Daniels' unusual decision to move back to his Michigan hometown with his wife and child while building a Hollywood career.
14/05/1949m 55s

Jane Mayer on Thomas, Trump, and Twitter

The New Yorker’s marquee investigative journalist, Jane Mayer has been a thorn in the side of three presidents, two Supreme Court justices, and, most recently, Fox News.  She tells Alec stories from her investigations into Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, and talks about what drew her to the rigors of reporting.  Plus she reveals details about her process, including why she often leaves victim-interviews to her co-authors.
30/04/1939m 19s

Perta: Life Just Before Rock Stardom

The band Perta has landed a glossy magazine profile and is represented by star-making talent agents WME. They've got big labels knocking at the door, attracted by a stunningly talented frontman and a funky, catchy, original sound. But that doesn't mean they can necessarily quit their day jobs. It's a strange, exciting place to be. Perta frontman Mat Bazulka and founder/keyboardist Colin Kenrick tell the story of how one band is breaking through in a rapidly changing music world -- and share some of the band's unreleased tracks.
16/04/1938m 19s

Geoffrey Horne and the Mysterious Disappearance of a Dreamboat

Barely out of college in the mid-1950s, Geoffrey Horne was a heartthrob TV star with acting chops to rival the greatest talents of his day. In '57 David Lean gave him a breakout role in his masterpiece, Bridge on the River Kwai and Otto Preminger followed up by casting him as Philippe in Bonjour Tristesse. Full Hollywood stardom seemed inevitable -- and yet, few roles followed. Horne didn't resurface as an actor of note for 25 years, in late-70s New York, when his scene-work at the Actors Studio attracted the attention of Method master Lee Strasberg.  Strasberg invited him to teach some classes and the rest is history. Horne became one of the most brilliant and sought-after teachers in the history of his craft. Alec credits Horne's commitment to emotional honesty for much of his success. But the question remains: what happened to Geoffrey Horne the movie star manqué? The teacher and student discuss that question and much more, including the set and stars of River Kwai.
02/04/1934m 23s

Sarah Kliff and the Insane Saga of American Emergency Room Bills

America’s most famous healthcare expert was actually born in Canada! The Vox reporter and all-around policy guru explains how, in a country with entrenched interests similar to ours, progressives managed to win coverage for every Canadian. Plus she gives her take on the remarkable unity in the Democratic Party over "Medicare for All," the political realities about what can actually get done, and tells stories from her year spent reading Americans’ terrifying, infuriating emergency room bills. One of the people who sent her his bill was a man in San Francisco who was hit by a public bus, taken to a public hospital, and had insurance -- but was still on the hook for $27,660.
19/03/1943m 13s

Itzhak Perlman Cracks Wise

The legendary violinist talks about his difficult childhood, stricken by polio in the war-torn early days of Israeli statehood -- and laughs about his early success, whisked away to the United States at 13 to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Plus, what makes a truly great instrumentalist?  What makes a great teacher?  Later, his wife Toby Perlman weighs in, too, so the interview becomes a family affair, topped with a spectacular Mendelssohn performance by eight students from the Perlman Music Program.  Toby founded that summer school on idyllic Shelter Island to provide a safe space for young musical geniuses to develop their talents, and themselves.
05/03/1942m 21s

Steven Lee Myers' Putin Primer

Russia has glittering towers and a jet-set elite, but grinding rural poverty.  It has one of the world’s great literary traditions, but throws dissenters in jail for a blog post. Who is Vladimir Putin, the man who created this new world power through force of will? New York Times’ correspondent Steven Lee Myers unravels some of this question for Alec. His book is The New Tsar. Myers talks to Alec about Putin’s early years, the Putin-Trump connection and how being the New York Times’ Beijing correspondent is different from -- and similar to -- being Moscow correspondent.
19/02/1952m 35s

Climate Science, Explained

How can Earth Scientists and programmers really make predictions about the climate?  What are the ethics of having kids in a warming world? How to combat the disastrous politicization of the issue?  Dr. Peter deMenocal is the Dean of Science at Columbia, and a Geologist.  As a research scientist, he studies how Earth's climate has changed in the past.  Dr. Kate Marvel helps figure out its future by creating the world's most detailed and accurate computer climate-models.  Together, they're the perfect pair to help Alec and listeners understand what scientists really understand about the climate and how -- and why there's reason for hope.
05/02/1939m 47s

The Delightful Deviant Behind "The Human Centipede"

This episode talks about a movie whose premise might be disturbing to some. The Human Centipede wasn't in every multiplex when it came out in 2010, but the film is now firmly a part of American culture, the basis of parodies from South Park to Conan O'Brien.  When it was released, the premise was so revolting that many reviewers wouldn't even summarize it.  Roger Ebert declined to assign a star-rating, concluding, “It is what it is.”  When Alec saw the movie for the first time, he wanted to meet its creator.  Years later, this episode of Here's the Thing is the result.  Fortunately, writer-director Tom Six isn't just warped; he's also a raconteur with a twinkle in his eye.  He answers Alec's fanboy questions with humor and patience, and they break down the whole Human Centipede trilogy from critical, financial, and technical standpoints.  Listeners will also learn about Six's pre-Centipede career in reality television and teen comedy, and what he has coming up in 2019.  Six had a role planned in his new film for Alec.  Hear why Alec's wife cut that off at the pass.
22/01/1938m 15s

She Helped Create "Chaos at the Airports" after Trump's Muslim Ban

On January 27th, 2017, Donald Trump issued the travel ban barring visitors and migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Becca Heller, founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), had seen it coming. She foresaw that it would catch people in planes, turning passengers into undocumented immigrants midair. She prepared by setting up a network of volunteer lawyers who would show up at airports to help travelers being held there. On the 27th, the lawyers came, followed by thousands of protesters. The Trump administration, facing legal losses and "chaos at the airports," gave up enforcing the ban until officials could draft a new version. For a while, the good guys had won. Two years later, with a MacArthur "genius" grant under her belt, the 37-year-old Heller is strategizing about where to take refugee-advocacy next. Serious stuff, but she's still one of the funniest people ever to come on Here's the Thing. The International Refugee Assistance Project is at https://refugeerights.org/.
08/01/1944m 5s

Carly Simon Was Afraid of the Spotlight, and Still Is -- Revisited

It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine the 1970s without Carly Simon. After opening for Cat Stevens at LA's Troubadour in 1971, she gained near instant fame, winning a Grammy for Best New Artist that same year. The daughter of Richard L. Simon, co-founder of publishing house Simon & Schuster, she grew up surrounded by greatness. But if her childhood was peppered with celebrities, her adult life was dripping in them. By her mid-20s she’d meet Bob Dylan, duet with Mick Jagger, and marry James Taylor. Still, the shy New York native was a superstar in her own right, one who battled a stammer and a severe case of stage fright. She tells Alec Baldwin about conquering them both to become a musician who shaped an era. You can learn more about Carly's life in her 2015 memoir, Boys in the Trees.  Here's the Thing is only possible with your support. Donate now at heresthething.org/donate.  
28/12/1853m 18s

Billy Joel, Revisited

Billy Joel has sold more records than The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna—though the “rock star thing” is something he can “take off.” Joel started playing piano when he was about four or five years old, but he admits that he doesn't remember how to read sheet music anymore. He says it’d be like reading Chinese. That doesn't stop the third best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. from plunking out a few tunes with Alec. This interview was originally released in 2012. READ | Interview Transcript Here's the Thing is only possible with your support. Donate now at heresthething.org/donate.  
25/12/181h 6m

Questlove Can't Take a Compliment, Revisited

Few musicians can compete with the encyclopedic musical knowledge that Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson possesses—which is great news if you got to be a student of his at NYU. When not teaching music history, the 45-year-old drummer is directing the Grammy-Award winning group The Roots—a hip hop collective that rose from “everyone’s favorite underground secret” in the late 90s to Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show. Whether drumming, DJ’ing, or writing a book on food, Questlove is universally beloved. “The coolest man on late night,” according to the Rolling Stone. But there is one thing this genius of music can’t do: accept that he is one. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about a three year exile in London, Jimmy Fallon wooing the Roots, and how meditation saved his life. Here's the Thing is only possible with your support. Donate now at heresthething.org/donate.    
01/01/1953m 2s

Emilio Estevez Is Making Great Films, Doesn't Do Breakfast Club Reunions

By the time Emilio Estevez was 23, he'd starred in The Outsiders, Repo Man, The Breakfast Club, and St. Elmo’s Fire.  As the son of Martin Sheen, he was Hollywood royalty, and as a member of the "brat pack" group of early-80s stars, he was a hot commodity.  But he started turning down big roles to become the youngest person ever to write, direct, and star in a major motion picture.  Estevez tells Alec that his script for that movie was "terrible," -- but it was risky, ambitious movie-making at a time when he didn't have to take risks.  Estevez occasionally returned to "just acting" after that, for beloved performances in Men at Work, The Mighty Ducks, and more -- but his heart beats for his writer/director projects like 2006’s RFK masterpiece Bobby, nominated for a Best Film Golden Globe.  His latest is The Public, about a fictional occupation of the Cincinnati Public Library by the city's homeless.  Alec plays the police negotiator.  The two actors discuss their collaboration -- plus growing up a Sheen, Francis Ford Coppola's brutal audition process, and whether actors should participate in the fan culture surrounding cult films like The Breakfast Club.
18/12/1836m 43s

The Restaurant Whisperer

Debra Kletter's job is to be food-guru to some of the world's most discerning palates.  Once one of New York theater's most respected lighting designers, Kletter found herself in the early 1990s disillusioned by budget-cuts and shaken by the loss of a generation of colleagues to HIV.  So she pursued her second calling, far from the first: figuring out where you should eat dinner.  After all, as she tells Alec, "reading menus was always my happy place."  Now, years into her new business (which she conducts through her website, www.eatquestnyc.com), Kletter can tell you the best injera in Harlem or the oldest-school trattoria in Rome.  But her real genius is an ability to match that encyclopedic knowledge with the needs -- and personalities -- of individual clients.  One of those clients is Alec Baldwin, and you can tell from their teasing that the two go way back: all the way, in fact, to the stage of Prelude to a Kiss in 1989, which Debra lit, and where the two became friends.
04/12/1840m 20s

Roger Daltrey, Founder and Lead Singer of The Who

Roger Daltrey put The Who together while working in a sheet-metal factory.  The band took many forms before settling into the guitar-smashing, mic-swinging amalgam of testosterone and sensitivity that changed the world.  But even before The Who began moving toward rock-stardom, Daltrey had walked a difficult path.  Born into a working-class family, he spent his infancy evacuated from Nazi-bombed London, crammed into one room of a Scottish farmhouse with his mother and many others.  He returned to a shellshocked father and real privation.  But he tells Alec that the environment was "rich" with love and opportunity, and eventually he found himself in a grammar school with songwriter Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle.  The rest is Rock history -- a history Daltrey helped define.  He recounts it with humor and pride on this episode of Here's the Thing, and in his new memoir, Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite, out now.
20/11/1848m 39s

Ben and Jerry Warm Up

In the late 70s, Ben Cohen was a rootless pottery teacher, laid off when his school closed down.  Jerry Greenfield was a diligent pre-med, realizing he was never going to get into med school.  They'd formed a deep friendship years earlier, as the two chubby kids in their middle-school gym class.  Their joint reaction to their separate crises was to open a small ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont.  That decision would change the face of the industry, and give America a model for a new set of corporate values.  At the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington -- just a couple miles from the site where Cohen and Greenfield set up shop in 1978 -- Alec talks to Ben and Jerry in front of a crowd that idolizes their hometown heroes, and the energy is infectious.  From their Long Island childhood to the tensions surrounding Ben & Jerry's acquisition by Dutch conglomerate Unilever in 2000, the conversation is open, honest, and brimming with the deep bond these two men continue to feel, 40 years after they first put their names together on a sign in Vermont.  Thanks to Vermont Public Radio for making it possible.
06/11/1851m 50s

American Alexandria: Susan Orlean on the Great LA Library Fire

As a staff-writer at the New Yorker, Susan Orlean has embedded with fertility shamans in Bhutan and profiled a dog (a boxer named Biff).  Her book The Orchid Thief inspired one of the most successful art-house movies of the past 20 years.  Her latest deep dive is the burning of the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986.  It is, to this day, the most damaging library-fire in U.S. history, but it's almost unknown outside of Southern California because national attention was focused on the Chernobyl meltdown.  As with all Orlean's books, the nominal subject is a vehicle to tell human stories: those of the man arrested for the arson, of the cops who investigate, the librarians whose lives were changed, and the preservationists who insisted on rebuilding.  It's a topic close to Alec's heart.  He and Orlean discuss with warmth and enthusiasm the critical role libraries played in their respective childhoods (Alec is the son of a schoolteacher, after all), and their shared commitment today to the universal ideals of the public library.
01/11/1840m 53s

Maggie Gyllenhaal Knows What She Wants

Maggie Gyllenhaal's in a good place right now, at least as far as work and family go.  Her latest starring role is as a troubled teacher named Lisa Spinelli in The Kindergarten Teacher.  It's an unsettling portrayal of, as Gyllenhaal tells Alec, the "f***ing dire" consequences of "starving a vibrant woman's mind."  In the film, Lisa's mind-starvation manifests in an unhealthy, exploitative relationship with a kindergartner.  It's not an easy thing to watch, and Gyllenhaal tells Alec, "I almost didn't do the movie because I thought, 'no movie is worth disturbing a child, even for a few minutes.'"  But her concerns were addressed, she said yes, and the result is a performance Gyllenhaal feels really good about.  In fact, she says she feels better and better about each role she takes on these days.  It's from this career high that she and Alec talk about The Deuce, her college years, her alternate career in skating, and the happy joining of lives, careers, and vowels in her marriage to Peter Sarsgaard.  
01/11/1842m 11s

The Dual Life of SNL's Steve Higgins

Steve Higgins has two jobs. At 4:30 every day, 4 days a week, Steve announces The Tonight Show, sticks around to play Jimmy Fallon’s straight man, and then runs back upstairs at 30 Rock to keep working on that week’s Saturday Night Live.  At SNL, he's in charge of the writers' room and, alongside Lorne Michaels, makes all the big decisions about the shape of the show, and the cast.  It’s a heady life for a kid who started a sketch comedy troupe with his brothers in Des Moines after high school.  Alec and Steve are real friends, and their conversation shows it, going deep into Higgins' origins as a comic, and into the inner life of Saturday Night Live.
01/11/1841m 51s

The Passion of Flynn McGarry

After his parents divorced, 10-year-old Flynn McGarry wanted to feel useful, and maybe to reassert some control over his environment, too.  So he started cooking for his mom, Meg.  A passion was born.  Meg began homeschooling him, allowed him to turn his bedroom into a high-end kitchen, and hosted Flynn's pop-up restaurants at their suburban California home.  Massive publicity followed, and, this being the internet age, cruel online backlash.  Soon, documentary filmmaker Cameron Yates got interested, and embedded with Flynn as he rose and rose over six years, to the threshold of realizing his most lofty culinary dreams -- at age 19.  Cameron and Flynn joined Alec for a live event at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the three talk candidly about life under the microscope, about the mixed blessings of precocity, and, most importantly, about the complicated relationship between Flynn and a mother who sees herself as having given up dreams of success as a filmmaker and writer to nurture her family.  Cameron's film, Chef Flynn, will be in theaters November 9.
11/09/18

The Money Man Behind America's Biggest Concerts

Ron Delsener is a working-class kid from Queens who rode his charm and his hustle all the way to the top of the music industry. He basically created the genre of the massive outdoor concert with his epic series of free Concerts in the Park. He landed everyone: Pavarotti, Streisand, even post-breakup Simon and Garfunkel. And Delsener is still firing on all cylinders: James Bay and Hozier are among the artists he maintains relationships with today. In his wonderfully profane and discursive conversation with Alec, Delsener delivers a full dose of the old-school Queens personality that the New York Times says "radiates like a lighthouse beacon." Delsener's rockstar stories are great, his accent is great, and you'll leave the interview finally understanding what a concert promoter actually does. (Hint: it's so lucrative because it’s so high-risk.)
07/09/1841m 40s

The Hidden Trove of Musicals by Broadway's Greatest Talents

After watching an early copy of the forthcoming documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway, Alec became fascinated by the film's quietly hilarious hero, Steve Young.  As part of his job as a writer for the David Letterman Show, Steve had to scour secondhand stores for kooky music Dave would play on-air.  That's how he first came across recordings of industrial musicals, a genre of theater largely unknown to anyone who didn't attend a sales conference in the 60s or 70s.  An "industrial" was a fully staged production commissioned by a large company and performed solely for its salesmen, executives, or distributors.  Some starred top-flight Broadway talent and were written by legendary teams like Chicago's Kander and Ebb (Go Fly a Kite for GE, 1966) or Fiddler on the Roof's Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (Ford-i-fy Your Future, 1959).  But many performers and composers made their living primarily doing industrials.  Steve Young has dedicated his post-Letterman life to preserving what recordings remain, and to shining light and love on the artists behind these ephemeral creations.  Alec and Steve dive into songs like "My Bathroom," and into the psychology of someone who would dedicate his life to saving them from obscurity.  Plus they talk Letterman, and Young's own path from blue-collar New England, to Harvard, to the top of the comedy-writing heap.
07/09/18

Spike Lee Live at Tribeca

This affectionate, funny conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at the Tribeca Film Festival, and garnered articles in the Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, BET, and beyond.  The headlines were varied:  some reporters focused on Spike's 2 a.m. call from Brando, others the big reveal that De Niro turned down Do the Right Thing.  Still others were captivated by the audience-inclusive Black Panther lovefest.  Come for all that, but stay for Alec's one-man reenactment of a fight with his parents, and Alec and Spike's deep, passionate conversation about On the Waterfront.  Regardless of which part you love most, BET got it right: "The iconic director held nothing back."
07/09/1848m 23s

Pete Souza, Photographer to Reagan and Obama, Would Turn Down Trump

Having followed a steep path from his working-class immigrant family in Massachusetts to the pinnacle of American photography, Pete Souza ended up working for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama -- the only Chief White House photographer to have documented two presidencies.  "The odds of someone getting two calls to work at the White House are pretty slim," he tells Alec with true humility, saying both stints were "accidental."  That's hard to believe: Souza's unique ability to capture the moment without sacrificing composition won him plaudits for his work on daily papers well before he joined Reagan in 1983.  But even though he's an old-school news photographer, he has a decidedly new-school following, thanks to the millions around the world who followed @obamawhitehouse on Instagram, and who now follow Souza himself.  As Souza found his post-White House footing as a social media star, his Instagram turned into the catharsis bruised Blue America didn't know it needed.  When the travel ban was announced, Souza posted Obama with a smiling Muslim schoolgirl.  And the day before this episode of Here's the Thing went live, when Trump made nice to Putin in Helsinki, Souza posted Obama sternly towering over his Russian counterpart.  The Obama images, as he tells Alec, "appeal to people because of what we have now." It's an appeal he hopes to capitalize on in his new book of Trump-Obama juxtapositions, Shade. Special for Alec and WNYC, Souza gathered his favorite Obama photos that didn't make it into his book Obama, an Intimate Portrait.  You can find them below if you're reading this on the web; if not, go to www.heresthething.org. President Barack Obama plays with his niece Savita during the family's vacation on Martha's Vineyard in August, 2012 (Pete Souza, the White House)   Sasha Obama leans over her father as Malia touches his head ca. 2009 (Pete Souza, the White House)   Daniel Day-Lewis at the White House: 'Lincoln' Star reads the Gettysburg Address with Obama in November 2012 (Pete Souza, the White House)   President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica en route to Panama City, Panama in April 2015 (Pete Souza, the White House)   Obama crawls around in the Oval Office with Communications Director Jen Psaki’s daughter, Vivi, in April 2016 (Pete Souza, the White House)   Obama looks on as comedian Will Ferrell reads "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" to first-term cabinet-members. (Pete Souza, the White House)  
07/09/18

Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Rethinking Vietnam

The vast ambition of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's PBS documentary The Vietnam War has precedents, but most of them are other Burns and Novick documentaries.  The two directors' collaborations -- including 1994's Baseball and 2007's The War, about WW2 -- use their titles as entry-points to the full scope of American history.  Novick refers to Vietnam as "the childhood trauma that America never dealt with," and Burns blames our inability to overcome the war on a failure of empathy.  "When Americans talk about Vietnam," he says, "we just talk about ourselves. [We] need to triangulate with all the other perspectives, and not just 'the enemy.'  It’s finding out what the civilians felt, the Vietcong felt, but then also our allies and the civilians and the protesters all the way out to deserters and draft-dodgers.  And if you do that, then the political dialectic loses its force, because you realize that more than one truth could obtain at any given moment."  This drive to create a common, American, sense of purpose and identity motivates Burns's work -- a theme that runs through this lively exploration of the two artists' pasts and creative processes.
07/09/18

Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf on Lady Bird and Lady Barr

Note: this interview was recorded before Roseanne's tweet and the subsequent cancellation of the show. Alec says he has never enjoyed being on-stage with a fellow actor more than when he performed with Laurie Metcalf in Arthur Miller's All My Sons.  Her genius is on full display in the new production of Albee's Three Tall Women, currently on Broadway, for which she just won a Tony.  On Here's the Thing, Metcalf and Alec discuss her evolution into an accomplished actor from her days as an aspiring German-English translator who'd never considered a career in the arts.  She recounts the early days of Steppenwolf, the legendary Chicago theater company she founded with John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, whom she met while she was still in college.  We learn what it was like working with Greta Gerwig on Lady Bird -- and toiling through the grueling "publicity circus train you have to get on for three months" when you're in a hit movie.  And finally, Metcalf shares stories from both sets of Roseanne: her insecurity about the show's staying-power in 1989, and the political dynamic on set for the reboot alongside her Trump-supporting friend.
07/09/1840m 56s

A Fresh Look at the Death and Life of RFK

June 5th is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.  It was one of the formative events in Alec's childhood, and in the life of his father.  The release of Dawn Porter's brilliant new Netflix documentary series, Bobby Kennedy for President, was timed to coincide with this difficult milestone.  The movie is about his life and legacy, but its origins are in the killing and subsequent trial: lawyers for Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of the killing tried to interest Porter in a doc proclaiming his innocence.  She hired an investigator to review every shred of remaining evidence, and she herself (she's a Georgetown-trained lawyer) dug deep into the serious problems with his trial.  RFK, she says, would have been horrified at the witness-tampering, destruction of evidence, and abysmal defense.  But (despite Alec's lively, VERY informed questioning), Porter has no conclusion about his ultimate guilt or innocence.  The balance of the film, then, shows how the man lived, and what he might have accomplished.  It features never-before seen footage of Kennedy, and new interviews with civil rights heroes and Kennedy-friends Marian Wright Edelman, Harry Belafonte, Dolores Huerta, and John Lewis.  Together, Alec and Porter plumb RFK's rich family life and his political evolution, and mourn the historical and personal loss of his killing.  But first they trace Porter's own life from early years in her father's photography studio, to corporate power, to documentarian shining a light on one social-justice issue after another.
07/09/1836m 50s

Kubrick's Right-Hand Leading Man

Tony Zierra’s documentary Filmworker, opening May 11, highlights the best of movie-making.  It sings an unsung hero, and through him, all the unsung heroes of Hollywood. Actor Leon Vitali got his break playing the antagonist in Kubrick’s period masterpiece Barry Lyndon.  For a few years afterwards his star was rising -- until suddenly his face disappeared from stage and screen.  But his name didn't disappear from the credits of Kubrick's films; it merely moved down.  From costar of Barry Lyndon to, in subsequent films, “Casting,” “costumes,” and “personal assistant to Mr. Kubrick."  Vitali turned his life over fully to realizing the creative vision of his visionary boss.  Zierra encountered him while making a documentary about Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, and immediately pivoted to focus on him. At the Hamptons Film Festival, Alec sat down with both men for a riveting discussion about the film; about the intense, mercurial Kubrick -- and about the sacrifices necessary to make great art.
07/09/18

Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Schneiderman sat down with Alec last Thursday, just before news broke in the New Yorker that four women have accused him of, in the magazine's words, "non-consensual physical violence."  In the context of these women's allegations, it is undeniably jarring to hear the former Attorney General talk about his childhood and his Trump-resistance work -- not to mention his women's-rights activism and the #metoo movement.  But we felt we should put this episode out, and put it out early, so that people have access to as much of his recent thinking as possible.  We hope it is a useful resource. The introduction to this story has been updated.
07/09/1836m 46s

David Crosby: Don't Call It a Comeback

Some combination of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young played together for 50 years until 2016. The group survived even Crosby's near-total dissolution under the influence of cocaine and heroin. That was a brush with death that left him in need of a liver transplant and a new approach to life. His newfound joy is clear in this exuberant conversation with Alec. It's also behind a recent and remarkable burst of creativity: three solo albums over the past four years. Crosby's childlike gratitude for his sixty years in music is palpable, but he is candid about the struggles, too: from wrestling with Roger McGuinn over control of The Byrds, to the terrifying culmination of the 2016 breakup of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Plus, BONUS! This is the first episode of Here's the Thing's question-crowdsourcing experiment. Your questions provided moving insight into the impact David's music and story have made on fans over the years. We couldn't include all the questions, but we used a lot, and David was really into it. Stay tuned for another call for submissions soon.
07/09/1847m 45s

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin Is Not Just a Talking Head

Jeffrey Toobin is such a TV institution as a legal commentator that it can be hard to imagine him in casual clothes, outside a news studio.  But it was the real, flesh-and-blood Jeff that showed up to his interview with Alec, talking about life before CNN and the New Yorker.  There's lots to discuss about what made him the man he is, both personally (his mom was Marlene Sanders, the first big female TV news star) and professionally (when he went to publish his first book, he was threatened with criminal prosecution, accused of disclosing secrets of the Iran Contra investigation).  And of course Alec and his guest got into lively discussions about the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the OJ Simpson murder case.  Toobin wrote the definitive books on both.  Ever wonder what each of OJ's lawyers thought about his guilt or innocence?  Listen and learn.
07/09/18

Did the Moody Blues Save Alec Baldwin from a Life of Crime?

Alec is a BIG fan of Justin Hayward -- vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for The Moody Blues, pioneers of complex orchestral arrangements in rock.  As he tells it, their songs were the only thing that could mellow out his rough crowd in high school. Interspersed with Alec's observations on some of his favorite musical passages, this intimate conversation ranges from the technical details of how the group created its signature orchestral sound (a mechanical wonder called the Mellotron) to Hayward's sense of alienation from his younger self.  Hayward muses, "Here we are now talking about the Justin that was, from 17 years old to 30 years old, and this ghost is always with me."  More revelations abound -- some melancholy, some very funny -- on this episode of Here's the Thing.
07/09/1843m 39s

The Turnaround Artist: Janice Min on Magazines and #Metoo

Daughter of a science professor and an IRS agent, a double-graduate of Columbia herself, Janice Min turned her talents in the early 2000s to the glossy magazine Us Weekly. Celebrity journalism has never been the same. In its pages, she revolutionized pop culture as well as publishing, slaking a thirst Americans didn't know they had for J-Lo, the Kardashians, and The Bachelor. Min paid legions of paparazzi and helped create the fun, intimate, gossipy tone that characterizes web content today. Then she moved to the moribund Hollywood Reporter and worked the same magic but in a different key, making it the go-to magazine for serious coverage of show business. Once Alec and she cover all that history, they turn to #metoo, Woody Allen, and how to create lasting change in Hollywood. Min's take is fascinating and genuinely surprising: think Frances McDormand with a dash of Deneuve.
07/09/1842m 7s

The Fast Times and Long Career of Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe's teenage years are familiar to anyone who's seen his autobiographical Almost Famous: 16-year-old writing prodigy convinces Jan Wenner and Rolling Stone to let him tour with and profile the greatest rock musicians of his generation. But what came after is just as interesting: going undercover as a high-school student to write Fast Times at Ridgemont High; falling into the Say Anything director's chair after the two first choices turned it down; hanging out with Led Zeppelin to get their blessing of the songs in Almost Famous.  Crowe and Alec are friends, and it comes through in their affectionate back-and-forth about movies, writing, family, and the bands they love.  And throughout this extended interview are interspersed some great tunes that demonstrate how Crowe is a master of the "needle-drop," using music to further the story, character development, and dramatic tension of his films.
07/09/1844m 0s

Michael Wolff, Chronicler of Chaos in Trumpland

Michael Wolff’s Trumpland tell-all, Fire and Fury, has set Washington ablaze with its terrifying (and controversial) depiction of a White House in chaos.  But all the focus has been on the White House intrigue and the downfall of Steve Bannon.  The man behind the book has gotten surprisingly little attention, even though it was partly Wolff's position at the top of New York media's social heap that won him Trump's trust, and access to the White House.  Alec set out to do a different Michael Wolff interview.  At a live event at Manhattan's Town Hall, audience-members learned about the Jewish kid from Jersey with a shoeleather reporter for a mom, who gave up on being a novelist to do big-money media deals – even as he wielded his poison pen against peers in the New York media elite.  And Wolff lives up to his reputation as one of New York's best conversationalists, giving answers by turns open, cantankerous, and very, very funny.
07/09/1851m 24s

Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone: a Legacy Built on Solid Rock

There was no such thing as serious rock journalism when Jann Wenner borrowed money to ink the first issue of Rolling Stone onto cheap newsprint in 1967.  His creation changed the landscape of both music and magazines.  It also put Wenner, a suburban middle-class kid, into the heart of the counterculture.  He tells Alec about his complicated relationships with the greatest stars of their generation, from Dylan to Jagger to Lennon -- and about the brilliant writers like Hunter S. Thompson whom Wenner found to document their lives and times.  In the 1980s, Wenner became a media mogul, too, acquiring titles like Us Weekly that brought unprecedented wealth and thrust him even further into the public eye.  That exposure was a mixed blessing as he dealt with coming out of the closet and, this time with his new husband, becoming a father to young children again in his 60s.
07/09/1831m 19s

Kyle MacLachlan on 28 Years of Twin Peaks' *Blowing Your Mind*

"The feeling of power" that comes from playing a dark, diabolical role?  Kyle MacLachlan tells Alec, "I get it." "It’s not something you want to abuse, or let exist other than when that camera is rolling."  The wholesome, square-jawed actor's dark side can be jarring.  As Alec puts it to him, "You're the guy that could be Andie MacDowell’s boyfriend bringing a basket of puppies, and then you’re like this nightmare."  David Lynch recognized the two sides of Kyle MacLachlan from the day they met in 1983, but that wasn't how MacLachlan saw himself: he tried to break out as a Hollywood romantic lead, but always found himself drawn back into the Lynchian orbit.  Join MacLachlan and Alec as they stroll through Kyle's life story, from his conservative stockbroker father, through his glamorous girlfriends, to the joys of fatherhood and winemaking -- all to figure out why he's the perfect vessel for Lynch's uncanny characters.
07/09/1843m 4s

Brilliant Minds of Trash and Sewage

New York City generates 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every day. 16 million pounds of trash. Eight million pounds of recyclables. Think of the awesome engineering and effort behind making all of that "go away" without our thinking about it.  Alec wanted to nerd out on those secret systems, and the conversations that resulted are fascinating and fun: you don't get into this line of work unless you have a passion for it. Pam Elardo is the Deputy Commissioner of New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, leading the city's Bureau of Wastewater Treatment. Ron Gonen was New York City's first "Recycling Czar" and now thinks about the problems of waste-management from the perspective of a businessman: he's the CEO of a major investment fund looking for the Next Big Idea in recycling.  Pam and Ron walk Alec through what happens from the moment people flush the toilet or toss out their coffee-cup -- and they talk about the big-picture environmental impact of our choices.  And since this is Here's the Thing, Alec also learns the incredible life stories each one brings to the job -- from Pam's persistence in the face of the sexism that discouraged women engineers of her generation, to Ron's luck stumbling into the home of a prominent environmentalist while doing housework to make ends meet for his family as a kid.
07/09/1838m 4s

Farmer Hoggett in the Slammer

From the humane wisdom of Farmer Hoggett in Babe to the simmering evil of Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential, James Cromwell realizes his roles with unmatched emotional honesty. He brings that same openness to a wonderful, sprawling conversation with Alec: Cromwell is a natural storyteller who’s had a remarkable life in theater, TV, and the movies. The two actors swap stories about shared teachers, loves, and frustrations – and political protest. Cromwell might be the most committed activist in Hollywood: his civil disobedience has led to multiple arrests and even a stint in state prison. And throughout the interview, you can hear the explicit and implicit influences of Cromwell’s father, a major Hollywood director who split from the family when James was six.
07/09/1845m 43s

John Dean: Watergate's Legacy in the Age of Trump

When John Dean found his conscience, America found its backbone and impeached a president. The Nixon Administration tried to undermine American democracy during the election of 1972 through now-legendary dirty tricks aimed at their Democrat opponents. They almost got away with it. Dean was Nixon’s White House Counsel, and participated in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in. Then he began cooperating with investigators, and blew the case wide-open. Dean is one of the most complicated and fascinating characters in modern American history. In a frank and funny conversation with Alec Baldwin in front of a live audience, John Dean opens up about how it all went down – and how it could go down now under Trump, who he says shares Nixon's paranoia and authoritarian instincts.
07/09/1857m 32s

Alan Gilbert Is Leaving the NY Phil Even Better than He Found It

When two people who really love something talk about what they love, the exuberance is contagious.  Alec Baldwin, a New York Philharmonic board-member since 2011, and Alan Gilbert, the outgoing Music Director, both really love the Phil.  When Gilbert took over in 2009, he was just 42, one of the youngest orchestra-directors in the country.  He wanted to inject enough new programming to keep the institution vital, even as the most dedicated orchestra-concertgoers nationwide average 60 years old and prefer the old standbys:  29% of ticket-buyers say that more contemporary music could keep them away from the box office.  But Gilbert found the perfect balance, and Baldwin invited him on to Here's the Thing to say thanks.  Gilbert, the child of two Philharmonic musicians, tells Alec about what it was like to grow up to lead it -- and about the ups and downs of his eight-year tenure.  Plus, the two men discuss which pieces overwhelm them with emotion, and the art of directing an orchestra: why are conductors even necessary, and what makes for a great one? 
07/09/1846m 35s

Tina Brown Was in the Room Where It Happened

Nobody chronicled the go-go 80s like Tina Brown. Her creation, Vanity Fair, wrote that decade’s cultural history as it happened.  It was also part of the story: its fashion-spreads, celebrity gossip, and serious reporting wielded real influence in America’s centers of power. But Brown herself was at the center of it all. Michael Jackson wanted a moment of her time. She did cocktails at the Kissingers'. She had everyone's ear and everyone's phone number, and she turned Vanity Fair parties into the perfect embodiment of 80s excess. She also became famous for hosting the best dinner parties in New York, and she brings that deft conversational instinct to Here’s the Thing. Alec draws out what it took to build VF, why Brown left for The New Yorker, and her personal struggles as she tried to maintain her confidence, her integrity – and her family – through it all. And since Brown worked with Harvey Weinstein on her post-New Yorker magazine project, Talk, she and Alec talk about the current crisis, too.
07/09/1844m 57s

Steve Erickson Saw Trumpism Coming

American Weimar, novelist Steve Erickson’s 1995 essay on threats to American democracy, has always been among Alec Baldwin’s favorite pieces of writing.  But last year, when all of the chickens Erickson identified came home to roost, it became clear that the piece, and its author, deserved even closer study.  Erickson warned, “Democracy cannot long navigate a sea of national rage. Untempered by rationale and open-mindedness, fury eventually consumes democracy rather than nourishes it.”  Today, Americans look back on the 90s as a relatively happy time, but Erickson saw our increasing polarization and our unwillingness to make tough policy choices, and he saw where those failures could lead.  Erickson’s updated observations are just as fascinating, and troubling, as the original essay.  His latest novel, Shadowbahn, riffs on the same American themes.  In funny and moving prose, it captures a fractured people, unable to overcome our troubled past but stubbornly holding out for redemption... as one reviewer put it, “a country with hellhounds on its trail but better angels just over the horizon.”     Steve Erickson is a lot of novelists’ favorite novelist.  Pynchon says he has a “rare and luminous gift;” Rick Moody says he’s in a league with Pynchon.  Murakami’s a fan.  David Foster Wallace (in a presumably rare lapse into cliché) deemed Erickson “the cream of the crop.” Erickson’s own novels employ a wild range of genres and narrative devices -- from the Hollywood farce Zeroville, currently being turned into a movie featuring Will Farrell, to the meditative Shadowbahn, a family roadtrip through alternate American histories, featuring Elvis’s stillborn twin brother.  Erickson’s exuberant mashups feel natural and even spontaneous, but he is also a professor of Creative Writing, so in his other life he has the near-impossible task of teasing out and precisely naming the building blocks of great fiction.  And he has to decide which books best model each one for his students. During Alec Baldwin’s conversation with Erickson on the latest episode of Here’s the Thing, he asked Erickson for the reading list he provides to his Creative Writing students at UC Riverside, matched to which writing-tool each one can help budding novelists master.  Below (in the order in which it came), is that list.                Unreliable Narrative:  Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëMixed Textual Media:  Cane by Jean ToomerThe Interior Vision:  To the Lighthouse by Virginia WoolfStructure: Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald & Light in August by William FaulknerVoice Driving the Narrative:  Tropic of Cancer by Henry MillerLandscape as Character:  The Sheltering Sky by Paul BowlesSocial Commentary Posing as Genre:  The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (crime) & Ubik by Philip K Dick (science fiction)Integrity of Worldview Posing as Anarchy:  V. by Thomas PynchonFiction of Ideas:  Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, & The Names by Don DeLillo  
07/09/1831m 9s

A Visit to Barbra's Place

Barbra Streisand has had multiplatinum albums every decade going back to the 60s.  She’s got Emmys, Oscars, Grammys, and a Tony.  She’s as big as a star gets, and she’s gotten there not despite but because of the fact that she’s remained distinctly Barbra -- the working-class Jewish girl from Brooklyn unwilling to compromise herself or her work.  That Barbra is on full display in this intimate conversation with Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin.  Inside her Malibu home, the two friends range over wide conversational terrain, touching on Barbra’s childhood, how the communist government in Czechoslovakia offered up the Czech Jewish community to be extras in Yentl, and the relief of getting behind the camera after years in front of it: “you never have to raise your voice, because everybody’s finally listening.”  And of course, old friends can’t meet over an empty table: food runs throughout the conversation.
07/09/1852m 4s

Bernie Sanders Thinks Democrats Are Still Way Off-Course

It was just 15 months ago that Bernie Sanders ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, but by his own telling, he’s already converted that political insurgency into a movement that’s changed what’s considered mainstream in America, from a $15 minimum wage to universal healthcare. In his new book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, he distills what he’s learned into a how-to for grassroots activists. But with Hillary Clinton still on a book-tour putting part of the blame for Trump’s victory on Sanders, the self-described socialist is clearly feeling contentious, and puts plenty of blame back on Clinton and an “upper-middle-class” Democratic party, which he joined in 2015 to run for president.
07/09/1840m 25s

Burton Cummings: the Canadian Man behind "American Woman"

For a while The Guess Who and frontman Burton Cummings were as big as it gets.  And if you’re Canadian, they’re even bigger -- the first huge Canadian rock ’n roll act, paving the way for border-crossing superstars from Arcade Fire to Justin Bieber. Burton Cumming’s main songwriting collaborator in the early years of The Guess Who was Randy Bachman, the band’s guitarist. Their collaboration changed the sound of the late 60s, but their difference in temperament ended up driving Bachman out of the band. Cummings tells Here's the Thing host Alec Baldwin why -- and about how life has just gotten better since The Guess Who broke up.  That's thanks to his dogs, his poetry, and a very dedicated fan-base.
07/09/1847m 14s

HBO's Sheila Nevins Makes Docs Hot

As head of HBO Documentary Films since 1979, Sheila Nevins has exerted more influence on the medium than perhaps anyone in its history. She has overseen the production of literally hundreds of documentaries, which have won dozens of Oscars. Whether shot in a war zone or the back of a taxi, Sheila Nevins’ productions are powerful, brazen, and unflinchingly honest. But when it comes to telling her own story, truth gets trickier. As she explains to Here’s The Thing host Alec Baldwin, in her new book, You Don’t Look Your Age and Other Fairy Tales, Sheila Nevins blends fiction and reality.
07/09/1833m 57s

Brando, Robert Frost and the Other Men in Patricia Bosworth's Life

Mark Twain once likened biographies to “the clothes and buttons of the man” saying “the biography of the man himself, cannot be written.” The quote is a favorite of Patricia Bosworth, a 1950s model-actor turned biographer known for capturing the lives of Diane Arbus, Montgomery Clift, and Marlon Brando. All three were revered and haunted by internal demons—a narrative she knows too well. Bosworth's own father, Bartley Crum, was a left-wing lawyer who famously defended the Hollywood before succumbing to his own psychological pain. It was her father's suicide, as well as her brother's six years earlier, that instilled a strong desire to seek out the stories of other tormented souls. Patricia Bosworth's latest book The Men in My Life turns that voyage inward, painting a picture of a resilient woman with a tragic story of her own.
07/09/1838m 30s

How Charles Munn is Saving the Amazon

Charles Munn's quest to save the Amazon revolves around one theory: if people see the beauty in nature, they’ll fight to protect it. So far, he’s right. Over four decades, the American conservation biologist’s ecotourism mission has helped restore 12 million acres of tropical forests in South America, including some of the most biologically diverse protected areas on earth. Today, he does this through SouthWild. Munn talks to Here’s the Thing about bird watching in the same garden as Einstein, using ecotourism as a conservation tool, and being the only safari guide in the world with a jaguar guarantee.
07/09/1842m 5s

Audra McDonald is the "Luckiest Survivor in the World"

Much like the staggering beauty of her voice, Audra McDonald is impossible to ignore. The only artist to sweep all four acting categories at the Tony’s, she’s the most decorated Broadway star of all time. Reviews of her award-winning performances overflow with accolades, describing her stage presence as “spellbinding,” “haunting,” and “genius.” But for the California native, things haven’t always been easy. She talks to Alec about getting into Juilliard, making it on Broadway, and the suicide attempt that helped shape who she is today.
07/09/1840m 4s

Yes, Jon Anderson's Musical Adventure Isn't Over

Many words can be used to describe singer-songwriter Jon Anderson; cautious is not one of them. Born in England in 1944, he began singing on his brother’s daily route as a milkman before falling head first for rock n’ roll. After meeting bassist Chris Squire in the late 1960s, he joined a rock group called Mabel Greer’s Toy Shop—and the two left to form a band that was later renamed Yes. Now 72, he’s sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. But for the adventurous Anderson—whose rendition of Goldfinger earned him the nickname "The Shirley Bassey of Rock and Roll," it’s still all about the music.
07/09/1853m 52s

'The Godfather’ Made Sofia Coppola Protective of Actors

Before Sofia Coppola could talk, she was in movies, famously playing an infant in her father Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather. She’d appear in the next one too, as an immigrant girl, but it was her role in The Godfather: Part III that caught the attention of the media—not in a good way. Critics claimed her novice performance “ruined” the final chapter of his series. It was a painful moment for Coppola, but one that gave her a firsthand look at the vulnerability of stars. Today she has the reputation of being “soothing” on set—a tactic that, given her multiple awards and accolades, is an effective one.
07/09/1836m 36s

Philip Galanes Lies Like a Rug

Philip Galanes is a man of many words—which comes as no surprise to his family, who grew up listening to him read Dear Abby columns aloud. An avid reader and passionate wordsmith, he returned to his alma mater, Yale University, a few years after graduating to get his law degree. But decades into a career as an entertainment attorney, his life took a different path. Today, the brains behind the New York Times advice column Social Q's, he proffers advice on everything from ex-boyfriends to sibling rivalry. The common theme among them all: a little fibbing never hurts.  
07/09/1843m 36s

Joe Jackson Suffers No Fools

Combining three musical genres in your debut album may be risky, but Joe Jackson never cared about playing it safe. In 1979, his first LP Look Sharp! did just that—weaving pop, ska, and punk together into a sound all its own. With songs like Is She Really Going Out With Him? and Steppin Out, his pioneering sound helped usher in the New Wave era of the early 80s, and cement his place as music royalty. Currently on tour nationwide, Jackson talks with Alec Baldwin about “fake news,” the instrument he considers to be medieval torture, and the reason he can no longer watch The Grammys.
07/09/1842m 58s

Carly Simon Was Afraid of the Spotlight - and Still Is

It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine the 1970s without Carly Simon. After opening for Cat Stevens at LA's Troubadour in 1971, she gained near instant fame, winning a Grammy for Best New Artist that same year. The daughter of Richard L. Simon, co-founder of publishing house Simon & Schuster, she grew up surrounded by greatness. But if her childhood was peppered with celebrities, her adult life was dripping in them. By her mid-20s she’d meet Bob Dylan, duet with Mick Jagger, and marry James Taylor. Still, the shy New York native was a superstar in her own right, one who battled a stammer and a severe case of stage fright. She tells Alec Baldwin about conquering them both to become a musician who shaped an era. You can learn more about Carly's life in her 2015 memoir, Boys in the Trees. 
07/09/1853m 26s

Brian Reed Thought "S-Town" Could Only Ever Be a Cult Show

Good stories teach us about humankind, great ones change the way we see it. For many, S-Town -- a seven episode series about an eccentric Alabama horologist named John B. McLemore -- has done just that. Released on March 28, the podcast reached critical acclaim near instantly, garnering 16 million downloads in the first seven days. For Brian Reed, the host and producer behind it, the reception has been thrilling. As the world continues to devour his masterpiece, Brian talks to Alec Baldwin about the email where it all began.
07/09/1838m 58s

Tony Hendra on the Essentiality of Satire

British-born comedian, actor, and writer Tony Hendra knows a thing or two about mocking politicians. As one of the first editors of the American humor magazine the National Lampoon, he helped perfect and popularize the type of satire that comedians still rely on to challenge the status quo. His move from the variety TV show circuit in the 60s to the parody news world in the 70s was a deliberate response to the election of Richard Nixon. As Donald Trump gives new urgency to an art form Hendra helped shape, he talks to Alec Baldwin about the monk who changed his life, the glory days of National Lampoon, and why it’s a good thing that SNL is getting under the president’s skin.
07/09/1836m 30s

Alec Baldwin in the Hot Seat

Here’s The Thing listeners are used to hearing Alec ask the questions, but for this bonus episode, he’s the guest! To mark the publication of his new memoir, Nevertheless, Alec talk about money, drugs, career choices and family with Death, Sex & Money host Anna Sale. Stay tuned for Alec’s conversation with comedian and satirist Tony Hendra – out on Tuesday!
07/09/1839m 45s

Mark Farner: The Cussing Christian of Rock and Roll

In 1969, Grand Funk Railroad was an unknown rock band. Two years later, they sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles. Mark Farner -- the group's lead vocalist and principle songwriter -- is still touring four decades later. The self-coined "cussing Christian" talks to Here's the Thing host Alec Baldwin about his Christian faith, the time he almost died twice in one night, and how he wrote one of his greatest hits in the middle of a fight with his first wife.
07/09/1840m 26s

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman Take it Slow in Work and in Love

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman are famous for creating iconic TV characters on two beloved sitcoms, "Will & Grace" and "Parks and Recreation." But they also have a life together off screen. They've been married since 2003, and Playboy magazine compared their comic chemistry to "that of a hyper-sexualized Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara." They talk to Here's the Thing host Alec Baldwin about struggling to launch their careers, why it took them so long to kiss, and how jigsaw puzzles, audio books, and carpentry keep their marriage strong.
07/09/1849m 16s

Vogue's Grace Coddington Doesn't Want To Think Much About What She Wears

These days, legendary fashion editor Grace Coddington tends to wear black—her way of remaining a “blank slate” at the fashion shoots she runs. But it wasn’t long ago that she herself was the vessel for the clothes. Born in the north of Wales in 1941, Coddington began modeling in London at age 18 and landed on the cover of British Vogue in 1962. Following a serious car crash that left one eyelid damaged, she was offered the position of junior fashion editor at British Vogue in 1968. After she rose up the ranks of the fashion world, Calvin Klein hired her as his design director in New York in 1987. But Coddington missed magazines. So she phoned her former colleague, Anna Wintour, then the new editor-in-chief of U.S. Vogue, who promptly appointed her its creative director. Over the next 30 years, Coddington would go on to help shape it into the most powerful fashion publication in the world before leaving in January 2016 to pursue her own projects. But despite her air-tight confident image, Grace Coddington is still the shy girl who, “rigid with nerves,” failed all her exams in high school. She talks to Alec Baldwin about the current state of fashion in America, the up and coming model she’s most excited to watch, and why dressing men makes her nervous.
07/09/1839m 57s

Scott Chaskey is America's Favorite Farmer

Farmer, poet, and pioneer of the community farming movement, Scott Chaskey is the kind of progressive thinker that doesn't come around often. Weaving together his passion for farming and prose, the 66-year-old has penned multiple books on the community farming movement, creating a road-map for Americans who want to live off the land as a community. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about deciding to “eat consciously,” watching his love for the earth go global, and the food his kids hid from him when they were little.  
07/09/1835m 4s

Thelma Schoonmaker: Martin Scorsese's Secret Weapon

Thelma Schoonmaker—with a face and demeanor like your favorite grade school teacher—may be the last person you’d imagine to helm the epic violence of Martin Scorsese’s films. Yet this earnest, soft spoken woman has edited every single movie he’s done since Raging Bull. The two’s relationship is considered one of the most successful working marriages in movie history, earning Schoonmaker three Academy Awards and seven nominations. But filmmaking wasn’t always the plan. She talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about Scorsese’s pet peeves, what it’s like to “create” violence, and the woman she credits with giving her the “greatest life in the world.”
07/09/1843m 21s

John Turturro’s Mind at Work

It’s hard to imagine John Turturro—an award-winning actor, director, and writer—feeling inadequate. But even today, the big-hearted 59-year-old says he’s “still learning” his craft. Raised by Italian working-class parents in Park Slope, Brooklyn, he majored in theatre at the State University of New York at New Paltz before winning a scholarship to the Yale School of Drama. In 1989 he soared to fame as Pino in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and has been steadily solidifying his role as a Hollywood superstar ever since. While balancing a kaleidoscope of roles, he’s managed to both write and direct his own movies—most recently the reimagining of a French film from the 70s. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about meeting his wife at Yale, playing James Gandolfini’s part in HBO’s The Night Of, and the crisis that almost convinced him to go to medical school.   Check out video of Alec's conversation with John Turturro on Spike Lee and 'Do the Right Thing'.
07/09/1851m 43s

The Wonderful Life of Debbie Reynolds

Last month, as our listeners know, Debbie Reynolds died on December 28th – one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died, on December 27th. Alec talked to Debbie Reynolds over three years ago for Here’s The Thing. We always hoped he would sit down with Carrie too – perhaps with her mother. Sadly, this will never happen. But as a tribute to both women, we are giving listeners a chance to relisten to Alec’s conversation with Debbie Reynolds – a woman with over 6 decades of experience in show business. She talks to Alec about her big break in Singing in the Rain. “I slept in my dressing room,” recalls Reynolds. “I didn't take any days off because I’d practice on Saturday and Sunday.”  Reynolds went on to appear in Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown—and more recently, Mother. Reynolds talks about working with different directors and says she’s not one to hold a grudge, but warns that she does have a memory like an elephant.
07/09/1845m 56s

Questlove Can't Take a Compliment

Few musicians can compete with the encyclopedic musical knowledge that Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson possesses—which is great news if you got to be a student of his at NYU. When not teaching music history, the 45-year-old drummer is directing the Grammy-Award winning group The Roots—a hip hop collective that rose from “everyone’s favorite underground secret” in the late 90s to Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show. Whether drumming, DJ’ing, or writing a book on food, Questlove is universally beloved. “The coolest man on late night,” according to the Rolling Stone. But there is one thing this genius of music can’t do: accept that he is one. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about a three year exile in London, Jimmy Fallon wooing the Roots, and how meditation saved his life.
07/09/1853m 1s

Patti Smith Never Wanted to Be Famous

Patti Smith defined punk rock in 1978 with her hit song Because the Night, but the New Jersey native was never looking for fame. A lover of poetry, art, and creative expression, it was the desire to “do something great” that motivated her to move to New York at age 20—that, and hunger. The oldest daughter of a waitress and factory worker, she knew how to survive on little money. Making a lot of it, she says, was never part of her journey. But an astounding journey it’s been—one that’s sent her touring around the world, writing award-winning books, and marrying a musician with whom she had two kids. She talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about singing poetry with The Beats, getting saved from a bad date by Robert Mapplethorpe, and her love for 7/11’s glazed doughnuts.
07/09/1853m 6s

Robbie Robertson Learned Music on an Indian Reservation

At age 15, Robbie Robertson packed up his guitar and took a train from Canada to the Mississippi Delta—or as he calls it, the “holy land of rock n’ roll.” Inspired by his Mohawk relatives' musical talents, Robertson was determined to make his own mark on the music scene—and did. After playing backup for Bob Dylan’s 1966 world tour, he joined forces with other talented musicians to form a group humbly crowned: “The Band.” Operating out of a big pink house in New York, the lyrical genius and his band mates penned classics like The Weight—still considered a masterpiece today. As his new autobiography Testimony hits the shelves, Robertson talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about the Indian reservation where he first learned music, the makeshift basement studio where he wrote it, and the final performance that nearly got Martin Scorsese fired.
07/09/1844m 4s

Eric Fanning Says Combat a Last Resort

Eric Fanning didn’t think there was a place for him in a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" military, but today he’s Secretary of the US Army. He is the first openly gay leader of the armed forces. Fanning was raised in Michigan in a military family and had a life-long interest in government and politics. He earned an Ivy League education and worked in policy think tanks. But over the years, attitudes changed. And the military changed too. Fanning’s job as Secretary of the Army is like a real life game of Risk. When Russia or North Korea flexes its muscles, Fanning makes sure that US troops are ready to move to conflict borders. He ensures that those same soldiers have the tanks and body armor and weapons they need when they hit the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq. Fanning tells Alec there is a myth that the military is the first to want to go in and fight. In fact, says Fanning, it’s the opposite, because the military knows what this actually entails. Combat should be a last resort.
07/09/1842m 57s

Sandra Bernhard: Post-Modern Entertainer

Born in Flint, Michigan, Sandra Bernhard was raised in a conservative Jewish family. She spent 8 months on a kibbutz out of high school, then moved to LA in 1974 at age 19 and enrolled in beauty school. She started performing in comedy clubs at night. And for many, Sandra Bernhard is a stand-up comedian – after all, she soon attracted the likes of Paul Mooney, who became a mentor. But she's also done film and TV. As she tells Alec in this episode of Here’s The Thing, Bernhard doesn’t prefer one form over the other, but says “everything feeds off the other." Bernhard talks with Alec about her 1983 breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy -- and what it was like to perform opposite Jerry Lewis. Bernhard says she never wanted to settle for “just telling jokes.” She always wanted more. A bigger stage. A wider audience. She has a home on stage, but Bernhard is the first to admit that she finds manual labor – like cleaning the kitchen or doing  laundry – freeing. “It’s meditative,” she tells Alec, who concurs.
07/09/1838m 49s

Michael Stipe on R.E.M. and Fear of Collage

In the 1980s, Athens, Georgia, rock band R.E.M. was the epitome of the artful "alternative" band— producing a string of beautiful, if occasionally inscrutable albums, and slowly evolving over time. But then came Out of Time, the band's true arrival as global rock stars, riding largely on the strength of “Losing My Religion,” which was in constant rotation on TV and radio throughout 1991. It was the moment the band snapped into crisp pop focus—and lead singer Michael Stipe stepped with somewhat more gusto into his role as frontman. Stipe led the band through twenty more years of bold experimentation, massive success, and the occasional misstep—but never insincerity. R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, and, for the last five years, Stipe has channeled his new time and energy into photography, teaching, and politics. And while his songs will almost certainly last in the cultural memory for a very long time, Stipe himself has even broader ambitions. Like living until he’s a hundred and twenty, for starters. He talks to host Alec Baldwin about his long-term plans, as well as more immediate concerns, like voting.  
07/09/1842m 21s

Gordon Lightfoot on Dylan, Neil Young, and Stompin' Tom Connors

Over the course of a career that has lasted more than half a century, Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot has achieved global stardom and exceptional influence. Bob Dylan’s a fan—he's said, “I can’t think of any [Lightfoot songs] I don’t like.” These songs—“Beautiful,” “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” and many others—have been treasured by generations of popular musicians and listeners around the world. But Gordon Lightfoot was just one of many aspirants who moved to Toronto in the early 1960s to try their hand in the burgeoning folk music scene there. Lightfoot tells host Alec Baldwin about fitting a feeling to a melody, why he owes his first hit record to an exec's girlfriend, and how he wrote "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by pulling lines straight from the newspaper. 
07/09/1838m 50s

Radio Host Bob Garfield on Trump and Telemarketing

Each week, more than 400 radio stations across the country air "On The Media," a program that takes a hard look at the boldfaced names in the headlines—and the smaller names in the bylines. The program has won many awards for its role as a watchdog for journalistic accountability—including a Peabody, the highest honor in broadcast journalism. Recent episodes have investigated why it's difficult to report on prison strikes, shamed the editorializing of infamous “sting operation” videographer James O’Keefe, and pondered ExxonMobil's climate change research. The show's co-host, Bob Garfield, brings a skeptic's ear for opinion and an insider's knowledge of how the spin factory works: for 25 years, he keenly dissected commercials for Ad Age magazine. He tells host Alec Baldwin that, despite his mellifluous voice, he wasn't a shoe-in for radio, and explains why his outrage at telemarketers mirrors his indignation at being fed political bull. 
07/09/1844m 52s

Starbucks' Howard Schultz Doesn't Sleep—But Don't Blame the Coffee

Howard Schultz wasn't born into business. A Brooklyn boy whose father worked menial jobs to support the family, Schultz thought his way out would be through sport. That is, however, until he broke his jaw on the football field at 18 (an injury from which Schultz is still recovering). For the next three years, he made cold calls, a job he hated but which ultimately taught him about how to sell himself. He soon connected those selling chops with a small Seattle coffee roastery called Starbucks. He hoped to expand the chain to 100 stores; Starbucks now has 25,000 locations across the globe. Howard Schultz—who has been at the helm as CEO for most of the company's history—tells host Alec Baldwin that at the core of that success is a desire to build the kind of socially enlightened, employee-focused business that his father was never able to work for.  View the Starbucks "Upstanders" series here.
07/09/1834m 44s

Elliott Gould: Mash Notes on a Long Career

Elliott Gould has lived a life in show business. He was just 12 when he started singing and dancing in a vaudeville routine in 1951. Dancing has been a fixture: Gould says he tangoed with his mother to "I Get Ideas" at his own bar mitzvah, perhaps hinting at the career-long mix of serious artistry and arch comedy (with a bit of outré sexual antics thrown in) that was to come. His breakout role came in the 1969 romp "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," but Gould says it was his dancer's mind—a fixation on repetition to perfection—that ultimately caught the awareness of director Robert Altman. The two achieved mutual career standouts with films like "M*A*S*H," "The Long Goodbye," and "California Split." The latter is a film about the dark side of gambling—Gould's own struggle with gambling addiction would later add a subtle depth to his role in the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise. Gould told host Alec Baldwin about all this and more at the TCM Classic Film Festival this past April, and opened up about his relationships with Donald Sutherland, his first girlfriend (and, for a time, wife) Barbra Streisand, Ginger Rogers, Jack Nicholson, Ben Affleck, and many others.
07/09/1845m 59s

Iris Smyles Is Trying to Be a Human Again

In Iris Smyles' new book "Dating Tips for the Unemployed," the main character 'Iris Smyles' embarks on a personal journey (modeled on Homer's "Odyssey") that involves plenty of emotional shipwrecks and failures to launch. The source material is closely drawn from the author's own off-center life. Smyles tells host Alec Baldwin about her preternaturally early interest in classic literature, details how and why she indulged her self-destructive streak, and explains why the five years she lived like a typing monk were the best of her life. "Who wants to be moderate at anything?" says Smyles, "That's so boring."  
07/09/1844m 25s

Kevin Kline Takes a Bow, Several Times

Kevin Kline is one of the most acclaimed entertainers working today. So how did the kid from St. Louis end up with an Oscar, two Tony awards, and a career that has intersected with those of Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, John Cleese, and Kenneth Branagh, to name just a few? He says that, at Juilliard, the answer came in the form of a pair of tights and lots of dance practice, as well as a merciless culling of his midwestern elocution. Kline's career accelerated early: a cross-country tour with the soon-to-be renowned acting company founded by the great John Houseman led to Tony-decorated roles (three years apart) in "On the Twentieth Century" and "The Pirates of Penzance." His first film role soon followed, opposite Streep in "Sophie's Choice." Kline's stage and screen stock hasn't dipped since. He recently spoke with Alec Baldwin in front of a live audience at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, where he assessed some of his many marquee performances, and demonstrated the most important thing he learned at Juilliard: how to do a theatrical bow from every era since the Renaissance. 
07/09/1853m 5s

Nuclear Safety Isn't Just About Who Has the Codes

Gregory Jaczko didn't grow up aspiring to work on the country's central nuclear energy oversight body, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He had a freshly-minted Ph.D. in physics when he received a fellowship to learn about the political process in Washington, D.C. While there, he worked with Senators Ed Markey and Harry Reid, apprenticeships that prepared him for the contentious work of navigating nuclear industry interests—or pursuing countervailing aims. In fact, Jaczko says that when he was appointed to the NRC, he "arrived with a 'scarlet N'" (for "nuclear") because Markey and Reid have combative histories with the nuclear industry and lobby. Questions about Jaczko's leadership style dogged his tenure, including allegations of angry outbursts and abusive behavior. These resulted in a series of high-profile Congressional hearings; though a later investigation cleared him of wrongdoing, Jaczko resigned before the end of his term. But he tells host Alec Baldwin that after President Obama made him the youngest chairman in the history of the Commission, his primary aim was ensuring safety at the nation's aging and decaying nuclear energy sites—especially in the wake of the 2011 reactor disaster in Fukushima, Japan.  
07/09/1848m 58s

Viggo Mortensen, From Warrior King to Captain Fantastic

Viggo Mortensen became a global star as a valiant crusading king in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But then he deftly complicated this virtuous image with a series of dark, dense character studies for the director David Cronenberg. And his latest role is perhaps his most complex yet. In "Captain Fantastic," Mortensen plays a father who raises his six children in the wilderness—then reassesses his convictions as this bucolic fantasy collapses. The fame that came with his "Lord of the Rings" role also gave Mortensen the freedom to exercise his wider artistic imagination: he's a distinguished author, poet, painter, and publisher. Mortensen tells host Alec Baldwin how he got his acting start in school playing the ass-end of a dragon, and explains how his eleven-year-old son convinced him to say yes to the role that would make him famous.  
07/09/1853m 4s

Michael Eisner Wants a Good Movie to End Quickly

Michael Eisner started out in show business the same way everybody else does: by taking tickets at the studio door. But most ticket takers don't end up as epochal media magnates. Eisner rose to prominence at ABC as a protege of Barry Diller, helping to take the television network to the top of the ratings with programs like Roots and Happy Days. He jumped (also with Diller) to Paramount Pictures, and during his eight year stint as president and CEO, the studio produced hit film after hit film, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saturday Night Fever, Beverly Hills Cop, and many more. Eisner then spent the next two decades leading The Walt Disney Company, reinvigorating the animation studio with experiments like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and dozens of musical successes, starting with The Little Mermaid. But it wasn't just cartoons: Eisner vastly expanded the company's signature amusement parks, and spearheaded numerous media acquisitions, with Disney eventually absorbing ABC, ESPN, and launching cruise lines and sports teams. Eisner continues to experiment with new ideas and formats; his production company makes, among other things, a Netflix cartoon for adults about an alcoholic horse. Eisner walks host Alec Baldwin through his expansive film career, and explains how he views risk and reward.    
07/09/1850m 53s

Joe Dallesandro Thought Warhol Made Soup

Joe Dallesandro became famous as a shaggy-haired blond Adonis in the iconoclastic and transgressive Andy Warhol-produced films Flesh, Trash, and Heat, in which he helped to rewrite the rules for onscreen sexuality. He's name-checked in "Walk on the Wild Side," Lou Reed's most famous song, and that's Joe's pair of jeans on the cover of the 1971 Rolling Stones record Sticky Fingers. But, as he tells host Alec Baldwin, Dallesandro just wanted to run a pizza place. That was before a series of left turns brought him to the attention of one of the twentieth century's most influential taste makers — even if "Little Joe" didn't have a clue who Andy Warhol was at the time. 
07/09/1857m 25s

Netflix's 'Making a Murderer' Makes a Star

The massively popular Netflix series Making a Murderer explores the circumstances surrounding a homicide in small-town Wisconsin, and highlights the ways the criminal justice system failed defendants Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Defense attorney Dean Strang became the show's unlikely hero, and internet obsessives turned him into a moral crusader and even a sex symbol. While Strang was wholly unprepared for his sudden popularity, he tells host Alec Baldwin he's glad the show is giving viewers a taste of how American justice really works outside of Hollywood tropes, and talks about what he thinks the Avery case really hinges on. Listen to Alec Baldwin's conversation with Making a Murderer writers and directors Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi.
07/09/1835m 50s

Michael Pollan Tried to Blow Up a Woodchuck

Michael Pollan says that every writer has a "final question," an irreducible topic to which all their work tends. For Pollan, that topic has always been nature — specifically, the ways in which the natural world and humans have co-evolved to mutual benefit. So it's funny to hear Pollan talk about his failed attempt at incinerating an animal that was giving his garden a hard time. He tells host Alec Baldwin how this experience disabused him of the pastoral notions of nature found in Emerson and Thoreau, and goes on to talk about drunk elephants, his new Netflix series Cooked, the failed Bloomberg soda ban, and psychedelic drugs.  
07/09/1843m 53s

Anthony Weiner on Term Limits and Text Messages

This interview was conducted in April 2016, prior to new reports that Anthony Weiner continued to be involved in explicit text and digital message exchanges. Anthony Weiner is charismatic, full of ideas, quick on his feet — he's a natural politician. These personal strengths were well suited to governance during his stint in the New York City Council, and as a U.S. Representative in Washington. But his personal flaws became very public, and very visible, during a series of well-publicized sexting scandals. The professional fallout was swift in both instances: Weiner resigned his House seat, and later suspended his candidacy in the 2013 race for mayor of New York City. He talks to host Alec Baldwin about the ways in which an elected official has to publicly atone for private misconduct, and considers his next professional move. 
07/09/1849m 54s

Ellie Kemper Gets Brain Freeze with Alec Baldwin

Ellie Kemper leapt into pop culture consciousness in 2009 when she joined the cast of "The Office" during the show's fifth season. Her portrayal of earnest, perky receptionist Erin Hannon introduced viewers to Kemper's strongest weapon as an actress: her own effervescent personality. And Kemper's bright disposition is now front and center in the Tina Fey-created Netflix series "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."  "I am naturally cheerful and sunny — not manic," Kemper tells host Alec Baldwin. "I think for an actress, I'm the most normal I've ever met." She's also hysterically funny, and talks about her formative experiences learning improv comedy from Jon Hamm; her newfound love of Dick Cavett; and why a set of bathroom fixtures recently brought her to tears.
07/09/1840m 40s

Mary Brosnahan on Homelessness in New York

Mary Brosnahan recalls a trip she took to Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the height of The Troubles: she was 16, raised in a Detroit suburb, but here she saw soldiers deployed with rifles right in the city center. The trip politicized the young Brosnahan, even though the seed didn't sprout right away. She had wanted a career in the film industry, but a stint doing presidential advance work for Michael Dukakis reactivated the political animal, and conversations she had with homeless neighbors near Cooper Union suggested a focus. She took a job with Coalition for the Homeless, and quickly became its chief operating officer. In the more than twenty years since, she's been a tireless advocate for New York's homeless — a population that now surpasses 60,000. Brosnahan sketches the history of the chronic urban problem for host Alec Baldwin, and offers insight into what she's learned at the helm of a New York institution.  
07/09/1836m 54s

Cary Fukunaga Wanted to Be a Snowboarder

Director Cary Fukunaga was born half-Japanese, half-Swedish. His works travel wide cultural distances, as well. He's told an immigrant story (Sin Nombre), created authentic British period drama (Jane Eyre), and explored gothic noir (True Detective). His latest film, Beasts of No Nation, travels to an African country of no name. And while he's got a great eye for the specifics of his locations, Fukunaga also studies the emotional landscapes of complicated characters. He tells host Alec Baldwin that he enjoys the conflict between the appearance of normalcy and a darker underlying reality. WNYC wants to get to know you better! Take our survey
07/09/1839m 28s

Steven Donziger: Oil and Its Aftermath

In 1993, tens of thousands of native Ecuadorians filed a civil suit against oil giant Texaco, alleging that the corporation's activity in the country's north-east Lago Agrio oil fields resulted in the poisoning of drinking water, land toxicity, and biological defects and cancers among local communities. A young Harvard-trained lawyer named Steven Donziger first visited Ecuador in 1993 as part of the plaintiffs' legal team. After decades of litigation — still ongoing — Donziger has ultimately become the Ecuadorian plaintiffs' primary American legal counsel, as well as an outspoken critic of the legal tactics employed by Texaco (which was absorbed by Chevron in 2001). In 2011, Donziger won in Ecuador, resulting in a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron. But a federal judge in New York ruled that the judgment could not be enforced due to what he described as the “dishonest and corrupt” measures of Donziger’s team. Donziger is currently appealing that decision.        
07/09/1836m 10s

MSF's Joanne Liu Still Believes War Has Rules

Joanne Liu is the the International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), a non-governmental organization that administers humanitarian medical aid and assistance to war- and disaster-ridden areas. They don't just treat victims of bomb blasts or famine; MSF also makes public pronouncements about the political forces exacerbating oppressive conditions for innocent civilians. MSF's resolve to work in the world's most dangerous places has been tested lately. Last October, a U.S.-led airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, devastated a non-partisan hospital run by the organization, and killed dozens of people. And this February, at least seven people were killed after another airstrike hit an MSF-supported hospital in Syria's Idlib province. Despite the blows her organization has incurred over the last year, Liu tells host Alec Baldwin she still believes that wars have rules about the treatment of non-combatants and civilians, and articulates MSF's role in addressing protracted political conflicts that compound injury to innocent people. 
07/09/1834m 21s

Molly Ringwald: 'These Films No Longer Belong to Me'

For movie fans who came of age in the 1980s, Molly Ringwald is the definitive "it" girl. As the creative inspiration for director John Hughes, Ringwald was the de facto center of generationally-significant films like 'The Breakfast Club,' 'Sixteen Candles,' and 'Pretty in Pink' (written by Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch). Her red hair and sardonic wit became cultural icons all their own, and made Ringwald one of the greatest teen stars in film history. But she tells host Alec Baldwin that these films, as important as they are to a whole generation of movie fans, are passing moments in her growth as an artist and an actor: she's written two books, acted in numerous films and television shows, and released a jazz record, 'Except Sometimes,' in 2013.  
07/09/1840m 7s

Still Plenty of Fight in Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke started boxing as a young man as a way to cope with a rough home and a rough neighborhood. He was undefeated as an amateur in the ring, before coming to New York to study at The Actors Studio. Working with renowned acting coach Sandra Seacat, Rourke found success on the screen in the 1980s, starring in The Pope of Greenwich Village, Body Heat, Angel Heart and others. But there was a string of disappointments, too — and a reputation for being a pugnacious collaborator — and Rourke disappeared from Hollywood for much of the 90s and early 2000s. He resurfaced in the acclaimed 2009 drama The Wrestler, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Rourke tells host Alec Baldwin about how he learned to throw punches in his childhood, and why boxing is still the source of his pride and his renewed on-set discipline. 
07/09/1843m 29s

The Making of 'Making a Murderer'

In 1985, Steven Avery was convicted and imprisoned for sexual assault in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. He served nearly two decades of his sentence before being exonerated on the basis of new forensic evidence. Shortly after launching a multimillion dollar lawsuit seeking compensation for his wrongful detention, Avery was arrested and convicted for a horrific local murder. The ten-part Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer examines both cases, and asks whether and in what ways the criminal justice system has failed Avery over the last thirty years. The series, written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, has caused an uproar, and the case is undergoing new public scrutiny based on the film's interviews and narrative heft. The filmmakers tell host Alec Baldwin why the current case against Avery is inconclusive, why they're disappointed in public statements from officials familiar with the case, and how a decade of collaboration has changed them as professionals and partners.  
07/09/1840m 1s

Dustin Hoffman and Edie Falco

In anticipation of a new season of Here's The Thing, we're looking back at some of our favorite interviews from 2015.  The Graduate. Midnight Cowboy. Lenny. That's just the beginning of Dustin Hoffman's legendary Hollywood career. Over the last five decades, he's stretched and contorted himself into dozens of defining roles, earning recognition as one of the most talented actors in cinema history. Hoffman tells host Alec Baldwin that he savors each new opportunity like it's the first, and recalls his salad days when he was mis-cast, underestimated, and, on at least one notable occasion, sick on a co-star's shoe.  Edie Falco says she is nothing like Carmela Soprano. Nor does she have much in common with Nurse Jackie. But Falco made these characters two of the most identifiable and human women in television history. She has an armful of Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards—and a cadre of dedicated fans—to prove it. Along the way, she's battled cancer, raised two children on her own, and is a recovering alcoholic. She credits her multiple successes to good luck, great mentors, and says there's no predicting which way her career could have gone—or will go yet.     
07/09/1857m 3s

Sarah Jessica Parker and Ian Schrager

It's a new year — and soon, a new season of Here's The Thing. So today we're looking back at two of our favorite interviews from 2015. After shooting the pilot for Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker told HBO she didn't want to go through with the project. But after the first day’s taping, she says, she "didn't want to be anywhere else." Parker is now indelibly linked with her character Carrie Bradshaw—one of the most prominent women in the history of television.  Ian Schrager is in the hospitality business. Hotels or nightclubs, uptown or downtown, Miami or Manhattan, Schrager defines luxury and leisure. In 1977, he co-founded Studio 54, which quickly became the epitome of the disco era's cultural mores. It was Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Cher, and as Schrager recalls, "serious, sweaty dancing." Today, Schrager says nightclubs are a young person's business; he's long since reinvented himself as one of the pioneers of the boutique hotel. 
07/09/1857m 3s

A Classical Icon Who Has a Lot to Say for L.A.

The London Philharmonia is one of the world's great performing ensembles; over its seventy year history, it has engaged conductors as distinguished as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Arturo Toscanini, Richard Strauss and others. Today, Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen holds the baton. He has, of course, absorbed the great traditions of the Old World, but found fresh inspiration in a somewhat unlikely setting: Tinseltown. Salonen spent almost twenty years at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic before landing in London. "It was incredibly helpful to be away from the European, arrogant intellectual canon," Salonen says. "Of course when I started out, I had some residue of that 'culture as medicine' thing. Which is vile." As if all of this wasn't enough to keep busy, now Salonen is also the Composer-In-Residence at the New York Philharmonic. He joins host Alec Baldwin to talk about his passion for composing; the psychological difference between conducting and composing; and why he has a complicated relationship with Italian opera.  
07/09/1842m 52s

Jimmy Fallon Will Never Make Fun of You

When Jimmy Fallon landed a spot on Saturday Night Live in 1998, he told executive producer and comedy kingmaker Lorne Michaels, "I'm going to make you proud." Six years later, Fallon departed as a audience favorite, the show's go-to impressions guy, and the co-host (with Tina Fey) of SNL's "news" unit, Weekend Update. But he became famous without "working blue," and has always wanted everybody to be in on the joke. It's a trait that makes him a perfect television personality. Now, he occupies the most coveted seat in the business, as the host of The Tonight Show. He tells Here's The Thing host Alec Baldwin that he got his start in Saugerties, New York, practicing the stuff that every comic needs in their toolkit: impressions, musical numbers, and...a troll routine.  In this clip from SNL in 1998 (referenced in the above interview), Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin unwittingly predict a future success:
07/09/1848m 0s

Andrew Berman and Rob Snyder on Preserving What Matters

Growth comes with costs. On this episode of Here's The Thing, Alec Baldwin talks to two individuals who are protecting places that are most vulnerable to development and destruction.  Andrew Berman has been called one of the most powerful people in New York real estate, but not because he's a deep-pocketed developer. Berman is the Executive Director of The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, where he advocates for the protection and conservation of historically important buildings and sites, including cultural touchstones like the Stonewall Inn. Rob Synder works with thousands of individuals living on islands off the coast of Maine. His organization Island Institute develops community alliances, economic programs, and sustainability initiatives to ensure that island culture remains vibrant, and that local resources remain intact as climate changes and development encroaches. 
07/09/1835m 4s

Amy Schumer Grew Up in a Nude House

Amy Schumer says she's been called the "girl next door, fastest-rising comic" for ten years. But it's more true than it's ever been, given three high profile successes in 2015: her increasingly hilarious and transgressive Comedy Central television show "Inside Amy Schumer;" the feature film "Trainwreck" (written by Schumer); and a new HBO comedy special filmed at the Apollo Theater. She talks to host Alec Baldwin about growing up on Long Island, playing the worst person ever, and the Pilates class they shared a decade ago.
07/09/1836m 10s

Dan Rather Tells Alec Baldwin the 'Truth'

Dan Rather was the host and anchor of CBS Evening News for more than twenty years. He resigned the post in the wake of an investigation into then-President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era military service. A new film starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, 'Truth,' explores that period and the outstanding questions raised by Rather's journalistic inquiry. Host Alec Baldwin spoke with Rather at a recent screening of the film at the Hamptons International Film Festival, where they discussed Rather's days as a White House correspondent, recent attempts to re-assess Nixon, and the state of news today.     
07/09/1846m 16s

Carol Burnett

Carol Burnett's stage and screen career is one of the great showbiz success stories. From her early days on Broadway, to the 11-season run of The Carol Burnett Show, to her luminous big-screen turn as Miss Hannigan in Annie: Burnett's numerous Emmy and Golden Globe awards and nominations speak to her plasticity, her genius -- and her hilarity. Carol Burnett sits down with Alec Baldwin to talk about the unlikely origin of her show, recall her roster of A-list friends, and to explain how nudists dance.
07/09/1840m 40s

William Friedkin Paid Off the MTA to Make 'The French Connection'

William Friedkin is the director of more than twenty films, among them "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection." For the latter, Friedkin won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Director, based on the film's stunning action sequences and incandescent appearances by Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman.   "I would like to tell you it was all my genius," Friedkin tells host Alec Baldwin at the Turner Classic Film Festival, "but I had nothing to do with casting the two leads in that picture." Friedkin goes on to explain why he doesn't audition actors, how knowing a Sicilian helps with location scouting, and why learning to play tennis killed his career.      
07/09/1835m 34s

Andy Warhol Really Did Like Campbell's Soup

Andy Warhol gained fame and notoriety as the godfather of Pop Art. His electric-colored screen prints of Coca Colas, Marilyn Monroes, and electric chairs are iconic pieces, despite their iconoclastic origins. But there's more to Warhol than Day-Glo portraiture: he was an author, commentator, filmmaker, sculptor, and socialite. Host Alec Baldwin talks to Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Warhol Museum, about the hyper-inventive multimedia star, and learns about the surprisingly deep emotional basis for Warhol's obsession with Campbell's Soup.  
07/09/1832m 58s

Julie Taymor, Before and After 'Lion King'

"The Lion King" is now the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. Julie Taymor hadn't seen the Disney film when she was approached to direct the project, but she had spent years studying the masks, mythology, and ancient ritual drama of indigenous peoples in Indonesia. She tells host Alec Baldwin how she incorporates theater's primal magic into her many stage and screen projects: from the Beatles-soundtracked cosmic narrative of "Across the Universe;" to the elemental brutality of "Titus;" to her recent hallucinatory production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  
07/09/1838m 58s

Penn Jillette's Marathon Life in Magic

At 6'6" tall, Penn Jillette is a huge character. He's got a huge frame, a huge personality, and huge appetites. It's a trait that has occasionally gotten him into trouble; he weighed, until a recent diet change, more than 350 pounds. But his gregarious energy mostly expands to fill every moment of free time with professional success. He's an inventor, an entrepreneur, a podcast host, a TV show creator, a Twitter celebrity, a comedian. And for more than forty years, he's been the talking half of stage magic duo Penn & Teller. He talks to host Alec Baldwin about his lifelong atheism, what it's like to perform the same trick for four decades, and why he's committed to debunking nonsense.    
07/09/1845m 47s

Paul Simon

Paul Simon is one of the great American entertainers—a mantle he's worn since he started singing harmony with grade-school friend Art Garfunkel in a duo called Tom & Jerry. In the following six decades, Simon has written dozens of classic songs. His partnership with Garfunkel produced numerous hits like "The Sound of Silence," "America," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." And Simon's solo career has been equally fruitful, as an engine of eclectic pop music (the gospel of "Loves Me Like a Rock," or the imported reggae of "Mother and Child Reunion"), and also as an ambassador of global sounds (the 1986 album Graceland, and 1990's The Rhythm of the Saints). He talks to host Alec Baldwin about how he has—and hasn't—changed after all these years. 
07/09/1849m 2s

David Remnick on Liebling, Dylan, and Glasnost

David Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker magazine. It's a title he's held since 1998, and one that requires a tireless attention to detail, and an endless awareness of current news, trends, and ideas. In short, he keeps himself busy. Under Remnick's leadership, the magazine has addressed national events like September 11 and the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; he has also transformed the publication into a nimble digital enterprise amidst a cratering media landscape. "We come out every week, and now we come out every second," he tells Alec Baldwin. Remnick has six books and numerous anthology credits to his name, and has worked with some of the leading literary lights of the last two decades. In this wide-ranging conversation, he talks about some of those relationships, about his early career — including four years in Perestroika-era Moscow — and about his lifelong love affair with the music and ideas of Bob Dylan.  
07/09/1848m 34s

Alec Baldwin Dives to the Gulf Floor with Antonia Juhasz

BP recently settled civil lawsuits over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the tune of more than 18 billion dollars. But it's not the end of the story for the worst marine spill in U.S. history. Journalist and author Antonia Juhasz recently took a submersible to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico — closer to the BP Macondo well-head than anyone had gotten since it was sealed five years ago. Her story in the June issue of Harper's Magazine details what she didn't see down there — any vibrant sea life — as well as what she did see: a huge carpet of oil 3,000 square miles in size. And evidence indicates that companies are preparing to resume drilling in the region. Juhasz has been monitoring energy companies for over a decade, and has seen how routine spills have become, but as she explains to host Alec Baldwin, she still feels shock and anger over the ongoing impacts of these spills on the environment.      
07/09/1837m 33s

John Guare and Lisa Dwan Talk Theater with Alec Baldwin

A prestigious agent signed playwright John Guare before he had even graduated from Yale School of Drama, saying he showed promise. In the five decades since, Guare has been one of the most humane—and absurd—voices of American theater. He says "there's no such thing as a 'hit recipe,'" though if one existed, Guare would probably know about it; his acclaimed work includes The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, and the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the film Atlantic City.   Lisa Dwan began dancing ballet with Rudolf Nureyev when she was just 12, and she carried that poise and fluidity with her as she evolved into an actor. She says nowhere is that more evident than in her recent interpretations of fellow Irishman Samuel Beckett. Dwan gathered critical acclaim for a grueling one-woman show featuring three of Beckett's most intense works: Rockaby, Footfalls, and Not I. The last of these is a stream-of-consciousness monologue, with only Dwan's mouth visible hovering over a black stage.     
07/09/181h 2m

What Dustin Hoffman Learned from Bob Fosse, Gene Hackman, and Kobe Bryant

The Graduate. Midnight Cowboy. Lenny. That's just the beginning of Dustin Hoffman's legendary Hollywood career. Over the last five decades, he's stretched and contorted himself into dozens of defining roles, earning recognition as one of the most talented actors in cinema history. Hoffman tells host Alec Baldwin that he savors each new opportunity like it's the first, and recalls his salad days when he was mis-cast, underestimated, and, on at least one notable occasion, sick on a co-star's shoe.  Listen to a young Dustin Hoffman explain why he's scared of Hollywood in this WNYC interview from 1967.  
07/09/1839m 1s

Gay Talese Tells Alec Baldwin About Sinatra's Cold

When Gay Talese couldn't land an interview with Frank Sinatra, he wrote the profile instead by talking to Sinatra's tailor, stylist, valet, and other secondary characters in the pop star's world. The resulting piece for Esquire magazine, "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold," is a classic of New Journalism, which Talese helped pioneer. "I wanted to be a storyteller," he tells host Alec Baldwin. "I used my imagination to penetrate the personalities, the private lives, of other people."  For more than six decades, those people have included mafia crime bosses, civil activists, literati, prizefighters—and innumerable "normal" characters, with their own secret desires, triumphs, and failings.    
07/09/1835m 37s

For Ian Schrager, Studio 54 Was Just the Start

Ian Schrager is in the hospitality business. Hotels or nightclubs, uptown or downtown, Miami or Manhattan, Schrager defines luxury and leisure. When he and his late business partner Steve Rubell opened Studio 54 in 1977, the club quickly became the epitome of the disco era's cultural mores. It was Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Cher, and as Schrager recalls, "serious, sweaty dancing." Today, Schrager says nightclubs are a young person's business; he's long since reinvented himself as one of the inventors of the boutique hotel. The aim, he tells host Alec Baldwin, is essentially the same: make people comfortable, and change their expectations. At 68, Schrager shows no sign of slowing down; his heroes are Giorgio Armani and Clint Eastwood—passionate people who are inspired by work they love.     
07/09/1837m 31s

Edie Falco: Don't Hold the Door for Me

Edie Falco says she is nothing like Carmela Soprano. Nor does she have much in common with Nurse Jackie. But Falco made these characters two of the most identifiable and human women in television history. She has an armful of Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards—and a cadre of dedicated fans—to prove it. Along the way, she's battled cancer, raised two children on her own, and is a recovering alcoholic. But Falco doesn't want your sympathy; she tells host Alec Baldwin that her greatest professional accomplishment is creating a fun, respectful atmosphere on-set. She credits her multiple successes to good luck, great mentors, and says there's no predicting which way her career could have gone—or will go yet.     
07/09/1838m 24s

Lawrence Wright on Religion, ISIS, and Scientology

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2006 book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Most recently, filmmaker Alex Gibney directed an HBO documentary based on Wright's reporting in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Unbelief.  Much of Wright's work is about how religious belief animates personal action and political conflict. He has documented the Jonestown massacre, explored allegations of Satan worship, profiled brimstone-tinged gospel preachers, and, of course, tracked the histories of al-Qaeda and the Church of Scientology.  Regarding the latter, he isn't necessarily sympathetic to the Church's claims, but he understands its appeal. "People don't go into it because it's a cult, they go into it because they're looking for something," says Wright. "It's like going into therapy; people do benefit from it." "But it's one thing to get into it, it's another thing to get out of it."   
07/09/1846m 46s

Alec Baldwin and David Blaine Do Magic

David Blaine begins his visit to Here's The Thing by pushing an ice pick through his hand. He tells host Alec Baldwin that he began training his brain to overcome pain at a young age. Blaine grew up in Brooklyn, an only child with a single mother. He spent many afternoons at the local library and he channeled his isolation and loneliness into an early fascination with magic. Today, Blaine is an acclaimed street magician and sleight of hand artist, and also performs staggering feats of endurance: He has balanced on a 100-foot pillar for 35 hours; hung in a transparent box for 44 days; held his breath for more than 17 minutes at a time. He calls it magic, but says his work is mostly about mental toughness. "Anything I do, anybody could do... It's playing with that line of how far can you push yourself before you crack, live in front of an audience, that I'm intrigued by."    
07/09/1834m 28s

Roz Chast Draws—and Talks to—Alec Baldwin

Roz Chast's cartoons exude warmth and whimsy, but often share more in common with the dark humor of cartoonists like Charles Addams or Gahan Wilson than they do with "Peanuts." When she broke into a regular gig as a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine in the 1970s, she had already cultivated the eccentricities that became the hallmark of her work. As proof, an adult Chast drew a cartoon that shows a young girl with her head stuck in the "Big Book of Horrible Rare Diseases." It's labeled "Me, Age 9."  Chast has illustrated more than 800 cartoons for The New Yorker, as well as a number of books. Most recently, she published Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, a sharply-observed memoir of her parents at the ends of their lives. In this episode of Here's The Thing, Roz Chast talks to Alec Baldwin about life with her parents, growing up in New York, and her neurotic pet birds. 
07/09/1849m 35s

George Stephanopoulos

George Stephanopoulos was only 35 when he left his post as a senior advisor to President Clinton, his rolodex full of contacts and his head full of political insights. He didn't know what he wanted to do next, but he knew he was wrung out from his time inside the D.C. bubble.  "White House years are dog years, multiplied," he says. "I knew that in order to feel my age again, I had to start a different career." Today, Stephanopoulos is the chief anchor for ABC News, a co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America, as well as the host of ABC's political interview show This Week. In this episode of Here's The Thing, he talks to Alec Baldwin about another prominent TV host, Brian Williams; the prospect of a Bush-Clinton presidential race in 2016; and how he's learned to be himself on national television.     
07/09/1838m 0s

Bryan Stevenson Wants 'Equal Justice'

From 1877 to 1950, nearly 4,000 black people were lynched in the United States. Bryan Stevenson says these stories aren't part of the collective historical memory of most Americans, but they should be. Stevenson is the founder and director of the Equal Justice Institute, an Alabama-based non-profit that fights for retrials, death-sentence reversals, and exoneration in the face of racially-charged legal practices and policies. The Equal Justice Institute's report about lynching, recently detailed in The New York Times, is one piece of Stevenson's work focused on "confronting the legacy of racial terror"—a legacy that is directly observable today in the record numbers of incarcerated black men and boys. In this episode of Here's The Thing, Stevenson tells host Alec Baldwin that he believes the history of slavery and violence needs to be radically acknowledged and addressed if Americans are to achieve the promise of an equal society.     
07/09/1838m 5s

Sarah Jessica Parker

After shooting the pilot for Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker told HBO she didn't want to go through with the project. But after the first day’s taping, she says, she "didn't want to be anywhere else." Parker is now indelibly associated with Carrie Bradshaw—one of the most prominent women in the history of television. She tells Here’s The Thing’s Alec Baldwin that she was surprised to be considered for the part. Sarah Jessica has a fully-formed casting philosophy: she confesses to Alec that she tends to overcompensate when a co-star brings less than ideal energy to a part. "You know what they won't bring," she says. "And you end up projecting onto the other person what you wish they were bringing into the scene, and you become a bad actor." htt (htt)  
07/09/1843m 58s

John Eterno and David Kennedy on Nuanced Policing

The massive protests after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City strained relationships among police departments, the neighborhoods they serve, and political leaders. Then, in late December, the assassination of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos further escalated the rhetoric and what was at stake. This week on Here’s The Thing, Alec Baldwin talks to two people with years of street experience. Both have compelling visions for improving the broken relationship between police and communities. John Eterno is a retired captain in the NYPD who once defended “stop and frisk” policies. Today he teaches criminal justice at Molloy College and worries about how many more people were singled out for aggressive police scrutiny during the Bloomberg administration. Eterno advocates for a more individually autonomous, accountable, and, above all, transparent police force. David Kennedy is the architect of Operation Ceasefire, a community-based approach to de-escalating inner city gang violence. Over the last three decades, his work has transformed relationships between law enforcement and communities in cities across the country, including South Central Los Angeles and Boston. Now, he’s working in New York City. Kennedy believes that the influence of families, friends, and neighbors has a greater impact on lowering crime than handcuffs, firearms, and courtrooms.
07/09/1856m 57s

Julie Andrews

We often think of Julie Andrews as the prim nanny from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, but her personal path may have the greatest resemblance to one of her Broadway roles: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Andrews says she grew up “on the wrong side of the tracks” in a family strapped for cash during wartime, and her initial training as an actor was in the less than prestigious field of vaudeville. But right before opening night of her breakout role in The Boy Friend, it was producer Cy Feuer’s advice that we have to thank, in large part, for the level of excellence Andrews has brought to musical film and theater for generations. “Forget camp,” he told her. “Get real.”  
07/09/1849m 59s

John McEnroe

John McEnroe is one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time, but he lives just as vividly in the public imagination for his volcanic interactions with line judges and umpires. It’s no surprise, then, that McEnroe wants line judges out of the game entirely (”they’ve already proven they can’t see anything”). To revive the sport from what he calls its current status as an elitist cult, tennis needs more than just the introduction of instant replay. And as McEnroe works to cultivate new talent with his tennis academy on Randall’s Island, he’s also focused on keeping his own six kids happy.  
07/09/1844m 24s

Julianne Moore

Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore are members of a select club.  For them, names like "Edge," "Search," "Days," and "World Turns" mean something. They came of age at a time when soap operas were a big deal, and as they tell it, soaps provided an opportunity for some of their best raw acting. Now Moore, who has performed in everything from independent films to widely-released big budget classics like Boogie Nights and Jurassic Park, stars alongside Baldwin in the acclaimed drama, Still Alice. She plays a linguistics professor who starts forgetting her words as Alzheimer's sets in. This isn’t the first time the two have shared the screen—Moore’s also famous for her cameos as Baldwin’s high school sweetheart in 30 Rock. Hear two actors reveal why they do what they do, and how the decisions they’ve made have gotten them where they are today.      
07/09/1852m 0s

Ira Glass

Alec Baldwin sits down with Ira Glass to compare notes on interviewing, the afterlife, and how to find one’s voice – with a microphone or a camera lens. Now the veritable kingmaker of public radio, Glass has revolutionized nonfiction storytelling by using a voice that's personable, modest, and emotionally engaged. In this extensive interview, Glass lays it all out: politics (he's a Democrat; finds the left insufferable), religion (went through Hebrew school; done with it), fact-checking (you can never be too careful), and that dog who went as him for Halloween.    
07/09/1841m 35s

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld was just 27 when he first appeared on Johnny Carson in 1981. And he stood out. His material wasn't about his upbringing or personal relationships.  It was about our universal experience of small things. His unique comedy style eventually led him to create his namesake show with Larry David. After Seinfeld ran for nine seasons, he decided to go back to stand-up, and to his audience.  As he explains to Alec, Seinfeld feels uniquely connected to his fans: “You have this relationship with the audience that is private between you and them.”
07/09/1856m 34s

Debbie Reynolds and Robert Osborne

Debbie Reynolds has been in show business for over six decades. She talks to Alec about her big break in Singin' in the Rain. “I slept in my dressing room,” recalls Reynolds. “I didn't take any days off because I’d practice on Saturday and Sunday.”  As host of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne plays the role of ambassador to a bygone era. We hear the journey he took to get there—which could have been a classic movie itself. It all started when, as kid in a small town, he frequented the cinema and “fell in love with the movie business.”
07/09/1857m 2s

Fred Armisen and Paula Pell

Fred Armisen’s career has followed an unpredictable trajectory. Armisen spent nearly a decade drumming with Trenchmouth, a punk rock band remembered for its spirited cacophony. When he got tired of carrying his own equipment, Armisen picked up a video camera and began creating improvised characters. Fred relates stories from his years in the Los Angeles comedy club scene, drumming for the Blue Man Group, and working on SNL, where he met his idol, Steve Martin. And it’s true: Armisen really does love Portland. Paula Pell was having the time of her life singing and dancing at a Florida theme park when she got a phone call from SNL creator Lorne Michaels. She moved to New York, and two decades later, Pell was the show’s head writer. She says she’s still baffled by her charmed life. Pell calls herself “Nanny SNL,” because of her lengthy tenure on the show, but she says having a good night at SNL makes you feel 20 again.
07/09/1857m 3s

Chris Columbus and Stephen Daldry

Chris Columbus has brought to the screen some of the biggest American family films in the last 20 years: Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He also produced and directed the first two Harry Potter films and produced the third as well. Despite this success, Columbus admits that he “always, to this day, [feels] like [he’s] gonna walk on a movie and get fired.” He reveals to Alec what it was like working with brilliant improvisers like John Candy and Robin Williams—and casting Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The first time acclaimed director Stephen Daldry was expected to shout “Action!” he thought it was a joke. Alec met with Stephen Daldry in 2011, weeks before his intimate, post-9/11 drama, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, opened. Daldry’s work is precise and intimate, but in conversation with Alec he was passionate about a wide variety of topics, including communal living, the virtues of mass transit, and the Olympics.  
07/09/1857m 3s

Judd Apatow and Eric Fischl

Judd Apatow’s films—The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People—feature emotionally immature men forced to grow up after confronting sex, responsibility, and death. Of all Apatow’s movies, This is 40 may be his most personal; it stars his wife, Leslie Mann, their two daughters, and one of his long-time heroes, Albert Brooks. Apatow thinks of each movie he makes as a letter, telling him something he needs to know about how better to live life. Eric Fischl became known in the 1980s art scene for work that explores issues of sexuality and power and what it means to become a man. Alec talks to Fischl about his memoir, Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas, where the painter writes candidly about his youth, the art world, his own struggles with depression and substance abuse, and his thoughts about the creative process. Fischl started as an abstract painter, but as he explains to Alec, once he began to work with figures, he realized he was “doing the work that [he] was supposed to do, that [he] was built for.”  
07/09/1857m 3s

Robert Lustig and Martin Horn

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC San Francisco, studied brain tumors in children and began to see a connection between sugar and childhood medical problems, addiction, and lethargy. According to Lustig, sugar is as addictive as cocaine, heroin and crack, and is producing the fattest, least-healthy Americans yet. Former New York City Commissioner of Correction and Probation, Martin Horn has held every job imaginable in corrections: from debating the fairness of a state’s sentencing guidelines to fixing leaky water pipes in aging facilities. Horn tells Alec that his opinion toward inmates was formed from his early years as a parole officer: “every one of them was just a normal, ordinary guy … who had made bad judgments.” Though, nowadays Martin Horn has moved on: "It was a fascinating career. I am absolutely glad I’m done." 
07/09/1857m 5s

Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie’s childhood dream of performing on Broadway alongside Bette Midler never materialized. Instead, at 16 she delivered her first stand-up routine to an appreciative Long Island crowd. She tells Alec that she stole most of her jokes that night. A decade later, the comedian broke into television as an unbeatable Star Search contestant. A multi-talented actress, author, activist and television personality, “The Queen of Nice,” has embraced motherhood, adopting five children. Whether advocating the rights of gay parents or speaking out on political issues, Rosie O’Donnell has never been afraid to speak her mind.
07/09/1857m 5s

Andrew Luck and Dwight Gooden

In 2012, Andrew Luck was in his final year at Stanford University when he learned he was the top NFL draft pick. Luck, a self-proclaimed nerd, talks with Alec about going from being an unknown high school football hero to replacing his childhood idol, Peyton Manning. Off the field, Luck is passionate about travel, architecture and movies. Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden earned the Rookie of the Year Award in 1984. He was 19 years old with a blistering fastball and a notoriously deceptive curve ball. His outstanding first three years in Major League Baseball were soon replaced by very public battles with alcohol and cocaine which continued for much of his professional career. At 40, Gooden served ten months in a state prison for drug-related charges. That was a decade ago. More recently he published a book, Doc: A Memoir. Gooden watches football now and hasn't touched a baseball or a drink in years.  
07/09/1857m 4s

Patti LuPone and Jon Robin Baitz and Stacy Keach

Patti LuPone was only four years old when she realized she belonged on stage, and she started by entertaining family members in her Long Island living room. LuPone won her second Tony Award for Evita, which she initially described as merely “noise from Britain.” Although she has enjoyed tremendous, long-term success, she talks candidly to Alec about blows to her career and ego.  Jon Robin Baitz is a playwright who admits that writing plays is tricky. He’s a snob for Broadway, where the cachet and laughs are bigger. But deep down, this award-winning playwright considers it a privilege to be working in American theater at all. Alec speaks to Baitz about his Broadway debut play, Other Desert Cities, that came from a place of despair and loss—and his own personal experience writing for television in Hollywood. Stacy Keach’s dad was an actor, director and a producer. He had hoped his son would be a lawyer. Keach eventually wore down his parents, abandoned his major of political science and economics to pursue acting. Keach started with Shakespeare, which took him from a festival in Oregon to studying classical theater in England. Today, Keach teaches acting via Skype and his only true regret is not experiencing more of the great outdoors.  
07/09/1857m 3s

Peter Frampton and Thom Yorke

Grammy-winning guitarist Peter Frampton says, “Sound is very inspirational to me." And it always has been—Frampton started playing guitar before he was 8 years old. He talks about his musical roots in England, playing in bands like The Preachers and The Herd. At age 14 he was playing at a recording session produced by Bill Wyman, who he says is “sort of like my mentor, my older brother.” Just eleven years later, Frampton was on stage in San Francisco, recording Frampton Comes Alive—one of the biggest-selling live albums of all times. Frampton also talks about the challenges of his extraordinary achievement: “I don’t think anybody can be ready for that kind of success.” Thom Yorke, Radiohead and Atoms for Peace frontman, admits that, even after over 25 years in the business, performing is “either wicked fun or really awful.” He talks with Alec about his pre-show ritual—"I stand on my head for a bit"—and how he and his bandmates have been able to stick together since they were teenagers.   
07/09/1857m 2s

Lena Dunham and Elaine Stritch

Dunham, the creator of HBO’s GIRLS, says when she was younger, she thought she’d be a "Gender and Women’s Studies teacher who showed movies at the occasional film festival." Instead she's trying to figure out what to wear to shoot the cover of Rolling Stone. Dunham talks with Alec about getting a dog and her first date with her boyfriend Jack Antonoff.  She’s not ready for children—yet—but they are on her mind: “I was raised to think that the two most important things you could do in your life were to have a passionate, generous relationship to your work and to raise children.” In 2013, Alec sat down with the late stage and screen veteran who, among many famous roles, played his mother Colleen Donaghy on 30 Rock. Stritch spoke to Alec about her transition from the Sacred Heart Convent and finishing school to finding herself in the New York theater classes sitting between Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando. She performed for nearly 70 years and throughout career, Stritch comments, "I was the funny kind of offbeat girl. I was never the romantic lead.”
07/09/1857m 2s

David Letterman and Michael Douglas

David Letterman began his Late Night gig as a self-described “gap-toothed, unknown smart ass.” But thirty highly successful years later, Letterman’s comedy formula has evolved: he no longer attends all the meetings or makes all the decisions and stupid pet tricks are a thing of the past. Letterman began his television career as a weatherman, but moved rapidly up to anchorman and talk show host. He left for L.A. and, after only three years on the comedy scene there, he found himself guest-hosting the Tonight Show. He talks to Alec about how a quintuple by-pass and the birth of a child have dramatically shifted Letterman’s priorities.  Michael Douglas has lived in the same apartment overlooking Central Park for decades. Alec joins him there for a compelling conversation about what makes a great director and why playing the villain is so wonderful. Douglas reveals how competition with his father, legendary actor Kirk Douglas, shaped both his career and his life as a parent. He says he’s much more honest with his young daughter than he ever thought he’d be. Douglas explains how his father’s early brush with death, and his own cancer diagnosis affected them each in different ways.
07/09/1857m 3s

Lorne Michaels and Erica and Molly Jong

Lorne Michaels had nothing to lose on October 11, 1975, when Saturday Night Live first aired. He doesn't pull all-nighters any more in preparation for the week’s show, but Michaels tells Alec he is still anxious on Saturdays at 11:30 pm. Michaels believes in the power of live performance and gives SNL hosts the best bits. But aside from the funniest lines, the irreverent Michaels offers little protection. Alec is no exception.   Alec sat down with Erica Jong, author of the 1970s best-seller, Fear Of Flying, and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast. Erica talks candidly about coping with three divorces, and tells Alec she is certain her current marriage will be her last. Meanwhile, daughter Molly had no idea her mom wrote so-called “dirty” books. She does recall her mom being consumed by work and travel, but concludes that her mother’s legacy is about being honest.
07/09/1857m 3s

Chris Rock and Herb Alpert

Chris Rock is one of the greatest comic talents in the world, but when he arrived on Broadway to perform his first play, The Motherf***ker in The Hat, he did not yet know how to properly cross a Broadway stage. Rock says that his life has mimicked each role in the play—both the heart-breaker and the heart-broken—and he tells Alec that performing in the show was the hardest thing he has ever done.   When Herb Alpert started playing trumpet with his band Tijuana Brass, Woody Allen and George Carlin were the opening acts. In 1966, The Brass outsold The Beatles. Alpert went on to co-found A&M Records, where he identified and signed some of the industries greatest talent: The Carpenters, The Police, and Cat Stevens. He and his partner sold A&M in 1989 for half a billion dollars. He says he’s looking for the same thing as everybody else—a life of purpose and meaning.  
07/09/1857m 1s

Kristen Wiig and Dick Cavett

Kristen was in college when an Acting 101 class prompted a move to L.A. She had little experience, but a tremendous gift for improv, and she soon found herself in a room auditioning for SNL. Hundreds of personas later, Wiig is regarded by SNL creator Lorne Michaels as one of the three or four greatest SNL talents ever. Kristen’s expertise translated well to film, and she eventually won an Oscar nomination for her Bridesmaids screenplay. She joins Alec to talk about the arc of her career and the steps she hopes to take next. Dick Cavett shares some of his memories with Alec: meeting Orson Welles in the lobby of the Plaza; talking with Marlon Brando by phone—““I was told he would [call] at a certain time and we talked with the sun about 15 degrees above the horizon until well after the moon had risen;” and interviewing Laurence Olivier in the Wyndham Hotel when, Cavett says, he was feeling so depressed “I just want[ed] to go home and get under the rug.” Dick Cavett is the master of talk, a television legend; in this conversation, he shows Alec why his career has spanned nearly five decades.
07/09/1857m 2s

Billy Joel

Billy Joel has sold more records than The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna—though the “rock star thing” is something he can “take off.” Joel started playing piano when he was about four or five years old, but he admits that he doesn't remember how to read sheet music anymore. He says it’d be like reading Chinese. That doesn't stop the third best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. from plunking out a few tunes with Alec. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1857m 2s

James Toback

James Toback and Alec joined forces to make the documentary Seduced and Abandoned, which began as a story about raising money for a film. However, it soon became a study of the tension between art and commerce and how difficult it has become to secure financing for independent films. 
07/09/1844m 23s

Chris Columbus

Chris Columbus has brought to the screen some of the biggest American family films in the last 20 years: Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He also produced and directed the first two Harry Potter films and produced the third as well. Despite this success, Columbus admits that he “always, to this day, [feels] like [he’s] gonna walk on a movie and get fired.” He reveals to Alec what it was like working with brilliant improvisers like John Candy and Robin Williams—and casting Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.
07/09/1853m 12s

Danny Bennett

Danny Bennett has spent the past thirty years managing the career of his dad, Tony Bennett and has produced a film following his father's life entitled The Zen of Bennett. It was Danny who helped bring his dad’s music to a younger generation, through appearances on SNL, The Simpsons, and Late Night with Conan O’Brian—and the series of Duets albums, which feature Tony Bennett singing with the likes of Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Duets II debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making Tony Bennett—at 85 years old—the oldest living artist to do so. As Danny says, “I don’t just handle a career, I manage a legacy.” Last year Danny produced a film called The Zen of Bennett, which followed his dad throughout the recording of the Duets II album.
07/09/1837m 16s

Dan Mathews

Dan Mathews is in favor of going naked instead of wearing fur. That makes sense considering he is Senior Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He sits down with Alec to discuss his battles (and victories) with the fashion industry and he explains why PETA actually owns stock in Kentucky Fried Chicken.
07/09/1846m 30s

Eric Fischl

Eric Fischl became known in the 1980s art scene for work that explores issues of sexuality and power and what it means to become a man. Alec talks to Fischl about his memoir, Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas, where the painter writes candidly about his youth, the art world, his own struggles with depression and substance abuse, and his thoughts about the creative process. Fischl started as an abstract painter, but as he explains to Alec, once he began to work with figures, he realized he was “doing the work that [he] was supposed to do, that [he] was built for.”
07/09/1853m 37s

Dwight Gooden

Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden earned the Rookie of the Year Award in 1984. He was 19 years old with a blistering fastball and a notoriously deceptive curve ball. His outstanding first three years in Major League Baseball were soon replaced by very public battles with alcohol and cocaine which continued for much of his professional career. At 40, Gooden served ten months in a state prison for drug-related charges. That was a decade ago. More recently he published a book, Doc: A Memoir. Gooden watches football now and hasn't touched a baseball or a drink in years.   READ | Full Transcript  
07/09/1848m 7s

Josh Fox

Josh Fox didn't set out to be a documentary filmmaker. And in 2008, when Fox was canvasing for Barack Obama, hydraulic fracturing meant nothing to him. Things changed when Fox’s parents were offered nearly $100,000 to lease their Pennsylvania land for drilling rights. After seeing people light their contaminated well water on fire, Fox made a film called Gasland, which explores the impact of hydraulic fracturing on everyday Americans. It showcased at Sundance in 2010. READ | Full Transcript  
07/09/1856m 13s

Rosie O'Donnell

This week, Alec sits down with Rosie O’Donnell who says she “never wanted to be a talk show host …  I wanted to be on Broadway…I wanted to be a Bette Midler backup singer, one of the Harlettes.” And for over three decades, Rosie has done a lot of things – she’s been a standup comic, a Star Search contestant, an actress, a talk show host, a philanthropist, an activist, a magazine editor, a blogger, a Broadway and television producer, and above all, a mom to five. The latest child, Rosie tells Alec, "rebirthed" her. On changes in the acceptance of gay actors during the arc of her long career now, she says, "To think that in my lifetime, in my career, that you can be an out performer/actor playing against type – Neil Patrick Harris playing a womanizer on that show, being out and married with twin boys – and it doesn't hurt your career. It doesn't do anything. So in a way it's the most beautifully astounding, inspirational thing that I can think about in my 51 years of living."
07/09/1849m 41s

David Simon

David Simon cut his teeth as a crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun. When the newspaper industry began to collapse, Simon started writing for television. The Wire was born, and Simon hasn't gone back. Simon has a much larger platform now for sharing his strong opinions on the U.S. war on drugs, but he admits he still misses reporting.     READ | Full Transcript
07/09/1846m 41s

Stacy Keach

Stacy Keach’s dad was an actor, director and a producer. He had hoped his son would be a lawyer. Keach eventually wore down his parents, abandoned his major of political science and economics to pursue acting. Keach started with Shakespeare, which took him from a festival in Oregon to studying classical theater in England. Today, Keach teaches acting via Skype and his only true regret is not experiencing more of the great outdoors. READ | Full Transcript
07/09/1843m 44s

Elaine Stritch

In 2013, Alec sat down with the late stage and screen veteran who, among many famous roles, played his mother Colleen Donaghy on 30 Rock. Stritch spoke to Alec about her transition from the Sacred Heart Convent and finishing school to finding herself in the New York theater classes sitting between Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando. She performed for nearly 70 years and throughout career, Stritch comments, "I was the funny kind of offbeat girl. I was never the romantic lead.”   READ | Full Transcript
07/09/1843m 30s

Martin Horn

Former New York City Commissioner of Correction and Probation, Martin Horn has held every job imaginable in corrections: from debating the fairness of a state’s sentencing guidelines to fixing leaky water pipes in aging facilities. Horn tells Alec that his opinion toward inmates was formed from his early years as a parole officer: “every one of them was just a normal, ordinary guy … who had made bad judgments.” Though, nowadays Martin Horn has moved on: "It was a fascinating career. I am absolutely glad I’m done."  Read | Full Transcript
07/09/1843m 23s

Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds has been in show business for over six decades. She talks to Alec about her big break in Singing in the Rain. “I slept in my dressing room,” recalls Reynolds. “I didn't take any days off because I’d practice on Saturday and Sunday.”  Reynolds went on to appear in Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown—and more recently, Mother. Reynolds talks about working with different directors and says she’s not one to hold a grudge, but warns that she does have a memory like an elephant. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1845m 51s

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke, Radiohead and Atoms for Peace frontman, admits that, even after over 25 years in the business, performing is “either wicked fun or really awful.” He talks with Alec about his pre-show ritual—"I stand on my head for a bit"—and how he and his bandmates have been able to stick together since they were teenagers.  READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1852m 13s

Andrew Luck

In 2012, Andrew Luck was in his final year at Stanford University when he learned he was the top NFL draft pick. Luck, a self-proclaimed nerd, talks with Alec about going from being an unknown high school football hero to replacing his childhood idol, Peyton Manning. Off the field, Luck is passionate about travel, architecture and movies. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1836m 46s

Brian Williams

Note: In this episode, Brian Williams says he flew in a helicopter in Iraq that came under enemy fire.  On Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 Williams retracted this claim on NBC Nightly News and acknowledged that he was in another helicopter. As a kid, Brian Williams grew up in a CBS household. Dinner didn't start until Cronkite was done. He didn't think journalism was attainable, but his work ethic and blue blazer opened doors. From White House intern to young television reporter, Williams eventually found his way back to New York. On the job, Williams keeps his opinions quiet. Off the clock, Williams still enjoys vestiges of his youth: NASCAR and Spam. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1855m 16s

Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone was only four years old when she realized she belonged on stage, and she started by entertaining family members in her Long Island living room.   LuPone won her second Tony Award for Evita, which she initially described as merely “noise from Britain.” Although she has enjoyed tremendous, long-term success, she talks candidly to Alec about blows to her career and ego.  READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1846m 24s

Jill Abramson

In this 2013 interview with Alec, the former New York Times executive editor talked about how she grew up in a family where the paper was so vaunted that two copies were delivered to her house. Some media critics have speculated that this interview may have been a factor in Abramson's dismissal. Abramson was the first woman to hold the top editorial position at the paper. She told Alec that she took a “particular interest in the careers and work of many of the younger women at The Times and ... if anyone [had] a problem with that, too bad.” READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1839m 47s

Lena Dunham

Dunham, the creator of HBO’s GIRLS, says when she was younger, she thought she’d be a "Gender and Women’s Studies teacher who showed movies at the occasional film festival." Instead she's trying to figure out what to wear to shoot the cover of Rolling Stone. Dunham talks with Alec about getting a dog and her first date with her boyfriend Jack Antonoff.  She’s not ready for children—yet—but they are on her mind: “I was raised to think that the two most important things you could do in your life were to have a passionate, generous relationship to your work and to raise children.” READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1843m 4s

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow’s films—The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People—feature emotionally immature men forced to grow up after confronting sex, responsibility, and death. Of all Apatow’s movies, This is 40 may be his most personal; it stars his wife, Leslie Mann, their two daughters, and one of his long-time heroes, Albert Brooks. Apatow thinks of each movie he makes as a letter, telling him something he needs to know about how better to live life. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1837m 52s

Alex and Jamie Bernstein

Two of Leonard Bernstein’s three children—Jamie and Alexander—speak to Alec about growing up with the maestro. And while they knew him in the tux and tails, they also knew him as the dad who loved games—he was a killer at anagrams—and was always up for tennis, squash, skiing, or touch football.  The two talk about listening to music—Jamie says she learned “more about music by listening to The Beatles with my dad than I think I did any other way”—and how their father's relationship to fame evolved during his lifetime. Alex remembers his dad saying, “I’m so sick of Leonard Bernstein. I've had it with him." READ | Interview Transcript Special thanks to Jenny Houser, Andy Lanset, Ryan Lohr, Brent Reno, Mark Travis and Craig Urquhart.  
07/09/1845m 53s

Lewis Lapham

To talk with Lewis Lapham, you’re struck with the sensation that you've stumbled onto the set of a 1940’s film noir movie. He wears pressed suits and pocket squares—and his stories evoke another era. Lapham says he’s been refining his prose for over 50 years and that he still has to write “three or four or five, sometimes eight drafts of something,” but takes pleasure in “getting it right.” Before taking the helm of Lapham’s Quarterly he was at Harper’s for many years—and he started out at The San Francisco Examiner before stints at The Saturday Evening Post and Life.   READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1844m 31s

Paula Pell

Paula Pell was having the time of her life singing and dancing at a Florida theme park when she got a phone call from SNL creator Lorne Michaels. She moved to New York, and two decades later, Pell was the show’s head writer. She says she’s still baffled by her charmed life. Pell calls herself “Nanny SNL,” because of her lengthy tenure on the show, but she says having a good night at SNL makes you feel 20 again. READ | Interview Transcript
07/09/1843m 3s

Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy careened into adulthood on the tails of his childhood fame from St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink. He then left the so-called brat pack and picked up a suitcase, quickly developing a passion for travel and travel writing. His recent book, The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, chronicles his life on the road. He tells Alec, “Make yourself vulnerable to the world and the world receives you." 
07/09/1838m 40s

Peter Beard and Richard Ruggiero

Photographer Peter Beard went to the Natural History Museum at age seven and was mesmerized by the African dioramas. He stepped foot on the continent ten years later with a camera in hand and has been documenting Africa ever since.    Richard Ruggiero went to Central Africa with the Peace Corp in the early 80’s. He is now a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and worries about the devastation of the elephant population in Western Congo. Alec discusses population pollution with both men and the devastating impact poaching and sport hunting has had on elephants.   READ | Interview transcript
07/09/18

David Brooks

David Brooks is known as a Conservative voice—he was a senior editor at The Weekly Standard—but former Obama advisor David Axelrod described him as a “true public thinker.” Brooks has been a New York Times op-ed columnist since 2003 and speaks to Alec about writing a humor column in college, about his evolution of opinion toward the Iraq war, and he gives his two cents about the possibility of Hillary Clinton in 2016. He also tells Alec his basic feeling about college education: "Every course you take in college should be about who to marry."  Alec spoke with David Brooks on stage at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in Manhattan as part of the Public Forum series.  READ | Interview transcript
07/09/1851m 41s

George Will

George Will is a political conservative, but he’s not afraid to direct criticism to the right. Will offers some historical perspective on the current animosity in political life. “We've been through really violent times,” he tells Alec, “and we're in one of those periods now. And it will burn over.” With over 40 years in political journalism, George Will is a voice worth listening to. READ | Interview transcript
07/09/18

Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen’s career has followed an unpredictable trajectory. Armisen spent nearly a decade drumming with Trenchmouth, a punk rock band remembered for its spirited cacophony. When he got tired of carrying his own equipment, Armisen picked up a video camera and began creating improvised characters. Fred relates stories from his years in the Los Angeles comedy club scene, drumming for the Blue Man Group, and working on SNL, where he met his idol, Steve Martin. And it’s true: Armisen really does love Portland. READ | Interview transcript
07/09/1830m 21s

Zarin Mehta

Former president and executive director of the New York Philharmonic, Zarin Mehta, grew up in 1940’s Bombay before it became the booming city of Mumbai. In Mehta’s memory, Bombay was more like a colonial fishing village.  Mehta talks with Alec about his father, who founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, his brother Zubin, and the realities of running a major arts organization in New York, saying that, “in the United States one does not look to the state for support of the arts.” Alec also speaks with Mehta's wife, Carmen, and she offers her own insights into his success. READ | Interview Transcript   Music excerpts included in Here’s the Thing’s conversation with Zarin Mehta: Mozart: Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter" (Lorin Maazel/NYP from 2006 DG Download #1) Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe, Part 3 - 3eme tableau - Teil 3, Orchestre symphonique du Montreal / Choeur de l'Orchestre symphonique de Montreal; Charles Dutoit, (Decca Record Company, Ltd / London (Polygram Classics) Beethoven: Overture to Egmont from Alan Gilbert: The Inaugural Season iTunes Pass, release 5 (Alan Gilbert/NYP) Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude & Fugue #1 In C, BWV 846.R; Andras Schiff, Piano; Decca Record Company, Ltd / London (Polygram Classics) Schubert: Songs for Mezzo-Soprano & Orchestra (Anne-Sophie von Otter, mezzo/NYP/Alan Gilbert from 2011-12 iTunes Pass, release 4 Messiaen: Coleurs de la cite celeste (Colors of the celestial city) (Emmanuel Ax, piano/NYP/Alan Gilbert from 2010-12 iTunes Pass, release Brahms: A German Requiem (Masur/NYP as recorded following the events of 9/11, Heidi Grant Murphy, soloist) (from NYP broadcast archives, 2001 "special" and NYP 11-50)  Strauss: Tod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration) from 2005; Lorin Maazel, conductor (from NYP broadcast archives, 06-03) Thanks to the New York Philharmonic for generous use of archival material.  
07/09/1836m 6s

Anthony Baxter and Dylan Avery

Documentary filmmakers Anthony Baxter and Dylan Avery are no strangers to controversy—each of whom have made provocative political films. Both have attracted significant attention despite being made on meager budgets. Baxter’s You've Been Trumped is about a golf course in Scotland and it has given voice to people around the world who are fighting encroaching developments. Avery’s film, Loose Change, became an internet sensation and spawned a “Truther Movement” composed of people that believe that 9/11 was a government cover-up. 
07/09/1836m 6s

Billy Joel

Billy Joel has sold more records than The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna—though the “rock star thing” is something he can “take off.” Joel started playing piano when he was about four or five years old. He admits that he doesn't remember how to read sheet music anymore saying it’d be like reading Chinese. That doesn't stop the third best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. from plunking out a few tunes with Alec. READ | Interview Transcript  
07/09/181h 5m
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