Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin show

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

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 Anjelica Huston on Modeling, Movie-Making, and a Life in the Spotlight | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:18

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's Awesomely Diverse Rock Résumé | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 60:48

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.

 Eliza Shapiro on School Closures, the Big Picture -- and Probably Getting Coronavirus | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 52:38

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!

 Revealing Barry Sonnenfeld | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 39:01

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.

 The Luminous Kelli O'Hara | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:23

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, from DeMille to David Lynch | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 36:03

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.

 The Oscars Series, Day 5: For Sama, This Year's Most Powerful Documentary | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:14

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.

 The Oscars Series, Day 4: Spike Lee | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:45

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.

 The Oscars Series Day 3: Julianne Moore | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 52:04

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.

 The Oscars Series, Day 2: Cameron Crowe | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:18

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.  

 The Oscars Series, Day 1: Barbra Streisand | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 52:07

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.

 Kantor and Twohey: The Reporters Who Broke the Harvey Weinstein Story | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:54

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.

 Wynton Marsalis, Keeper of the Jazz Flame | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 37:53

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.

 Julie Andrews, Revisited | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:01

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.”

 Noah Baumbach Gets Personal in Marriage Story | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 37:25

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.

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