Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin
Summary: From WNYC Studios, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin takes listeners into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by going inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people we want to understand better: Ira Glass, Lena Dunham, David Brooks, Roz Chast, Chris Rock and others. Hear what happens when an inveterate guest becomes a host. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and many others. © WNYC Studios
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.