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
Alec Baldwin and Matthew Landfield crossed paths one time before their Here's the Thing interview. In early 2001, Alec was shooting a movie in front of 31 Desbrosses Street in New York's Tribeca neighborhood. Matthew had grown up in the building in the 1980s, raised by a performance-artist mom and modernist-painter father. Matthew and Alec said hello as Matthew walked in to visit his parents. The bohemian scene on the block stuck with Alec over the years -- so much so that when in 2015 he was driving by and noticed that the building was gone, he researched what had happened. Online, Alec discovered Matthew's labor of love: perhaps the best, most deeply researched article ever written about a single address. The Lenape, the Dutch, the English, the factory workers, junkies, artists and bankers -- every stage of New York history had some brush with the land (or water) that is now 31 Desbrosses. Alec was transfixed, and this funny, fascinating conversation is the result.
Six years ago the Board of the Manhattan School of Music faced a daunting decision: who would guide the school into its second century? They turned to someone with a long history with the school, James Gandre. Gandre joined MSM as an administrative assistant in the mid-1980s and rose through the ranks. But before then, he'd been auditioning for gigs as a tenor with symphonies and choirs. He continued to do so even after he began in administration. He tells Alec about his journey from small-town Wisconsin, to being an out gay man in San Francisco in the early 80s, to his long rise through the ranks at MSM -- and he shares his thoughts on the future of his venerable institution.
Brian Lehrer is a unique figure in the public life of New York City. Beyond hosting the city's defining daily talk show, he's our conscience and our conciliator. When New Yorkers want a fair mayoral debate, they often call Brian. When WNYC needed someone to help us process our own #metoo moment, we called Brian. The Peabody Awards honored The Brian Lehrer Show for "reuniting the estranged terms 'civil' and 'discourse.'" Of course, civil doesn't mean soft: he can be unsparing in his interviews because, as he tells Alec, "there's plenty that pisses me off." Alec is fan of -- and a regular caller on -- Brian's show, so who better to turn the tables? Alec interviews Brian about his path to prominence, and the two discuss their shared love of radio, and of New York.
Alexander Acosta has resigned from his position as Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. That's because of the sweetheart deal he cut politically connected financier Jeffrey Epstein back in 2008, when Acosta was a federal prosecutor. In the swirl of news following Epstein's re-arrest, but before the Acosta resignation, Julie Brown stepped out of Acosta's press conference to speak to Alec on the phone. We learn her reaction and that of Epstein's victims who called her up after the arrest. That conversation is at the end of an extended cut of their live conversation at the Greene Space this spring and a phone call from Alan Dershowitz addressing the accusations made against him.
Corey Johnson wants to be the next mayor of New York, and the press seems to think he will be. His plan to fix transit is the centerpiece of his platform. Tom Wright is the CEO of the powerful Regional Plan Association. That organization imagines the future and comes up with ideas for infrastructure and bureaucracy that could meet its needs. Nicole Gelinas, a reporter and a Manhattan Institute scholar of Urban Economics, also believes in big, innovative projects. But for the past 15 years, she's been reminding New Yorkers that we will not get a transit system worthy of our great city if we cannot get costs under control, and our financial house in order. Combine these three experts with Alec's curiosity and strong opinions about all things New York, and you get a great conversation about congestion pricing, organized labor, the MTA, and future of transportation everywhere.
California Congressman Adam Schiff weighs both sides of the impeachment debate and speaks out forcefully on Iran. Plus why his childhood in Massachusetts had an influence on his future career, why his his mother was so disappointed that he went to law school instead of medical school, and whether President Trump has done more to encourage or discourage aspiring progressive public servants.
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.