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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!