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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/.
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. WNYC is the producer of other leading podcasts, including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media and Death, Sex & Money.
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. WNYC is the producer of other leading podcasts, including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media and Death, Sex & Money.
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. WNYC is the producer of other leading podcasts, including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media and Death, Sex & Money.