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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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