Better Know a Guest: January 30 — February 2, 2012

The Colbert Report Guest Line Up Hello, Hubsters–

I’m still happy from last week, especially the Maurice Sendak interview. That was such a surprise, and a fresh, new way to get the blogosphere buzzing after the political antics in South Carolina. Although the politics continue too, because so long as there’s a Republican debate, there’s a joke waiting to happen. And…


Neil deGrasse Tyson has commented on Newt’s sci-fi, cheese in the sky plan, but I’d love it if he’d come back to visit the Report on this momentous occasion to chat with Stephen about it. It’s the first time in years a Republican has supported a space program, and it’s just totally wacky. And hello, Newt: NASA is a government program, don’t you know?

This week’s guests are an eclectic bunch, from the worlds of law, journalism, music, and community activism (with a short detour into cinema).

So let’s go!

Monday, 1/30: Laurence H. Tribe

Laurence TribeTo start the week, Stephen welcomes one of the country’s most esteemed legal scholars. Lawrence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, as well as the recipient of 10 honorary degrees, including one from Hebrew University and another from the Government of Mexico. In addition to his work in the classroom, Tribe continues to practice in court, and to serve in government as the first Senior Counselor for Access to Justice and a member of President Obama’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Obama was Tribe’s student at Harvard, in fact, so the two have a long-time connection.

To name just a few of Tribe’s accomplishments: he got tenure at 30; was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences when he was only 38; helped write the constitutions of South Africa, Czech Republic, and the Mariana Islands; and has authored over 100 books and articles. That doesn’t even include his clerking for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart or the fact that he helped argue the case for Al Gore in the calamitous 2000 election. Rumor has it that Tribe’s name came up as a possible “Supreme” during Clinton’s term.

Tribe is notoriously liberal, so “Stephen” the character might take umbrage with some of his views, I suspect Tribe will be able to handle whatever Mr. Colbert dishes out. Oh yeah—he was also a national champion debater. I had thought he would come on the show to discuss SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which has dominated the news recently and which Tribe vehemently opposes as unconstitutional. However, the guest announcement on ColbertNation says he’ll talk SuperPac, so I’m hoping we’ll learn more about where Stephen will take his—once the hostage situation is over, of course, and that evil Jon Stewart releases whatever money is left!  *Fist shake*

Visit Tribe’s Harvard University web page, where you can get a longer biography as well as links to the some of his books.

Tribe very recently had an op-ed, “Games and Gimmicks in the Senate,” published in The New York Times.

He appeared on Charlie Rose.

Tribe works with the law firm of Massey & Gail.

Check out some of his books, including The Invisible Constitution and Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes.


Tuesday, 1/31: Bjork

BjorkYou either love her or hate her, but Bjork is without a doubt an original. I will freely admit that she’s a taste that I can’t quite acquire. The Icelandic singer/songwriter has a strange, slightly outer space-y, otherworldly voice and a constantly shifting persona. As a young performer, she tried out a variety of styles, including classical (she studied piano), jazz, and punk, and passed through a number of groups, most notably the cult band The Sugarcubes. Her first solo hit, recorded in London, was “Human Behavior,” which featured an accompanying video by Michel Gondry, the director of the wonderful film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Since then, in addition to garnering 12 Grammy nominations, Bjork received an Oscar nomination for her lead role as a factory worker in Lars Von Trier’s film Dancer in the Dark. (She lost the Academy Award, but did win the award for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival.)

In 2011, Bjork released  a new CD, Biophilia (watch the video for MOON), reflecting her concern with environmental preservation, particularly in her native Iceland. As ever, she looks for new ways to present her work, and this package is hugely interactive. If you go to her YouTube channel (link below), you’ll see that there are free apps for fans to download, as well as games, along with the customary videos. Some of the instruments used in the recording are custom-made originals, like this lovely sounding gamelaste.

Bjork’s influences, musically and otherwise, are too many to mention in their entirely, but to name just a few: “Human Behavior” sampled bossa nova genius Antonio Carlos Jobim, and she also worked with the Brazilian musician Eumir Deodato on HomogenicVespertine had references to poet e e cummings; Bjork collaborated with the classical British Brodsky Quartet; and she has recorded with throat singers, beat boxers, and the hip hop hitmaker Timbaland.

Visit her official website where you’ll find a title=”Bjork’s online shop, on her official website” href=”” target=”_blank”>store to buy her CDs and more.

Like her on Facebook.

Follow her on Twitter.

Watch her YouTube channel.

Read an interview with her in Interview magazine.

And here’s another, more recent interview, done when she first released Biophilia.  I think this is an excellent one.

Okay, I had to do it: an article, with photos, about her infamous “swan” dress, worn to the Oscars.


Wednesday, 2/1: Ameena Matthews

Ameena MatthewsI haven’t yet had the chance to see The Interrupters, a documentary directed by Steve James and produced by bestselling writer Alex Kotlowitz, but all I have heard are raves—along with howls of protest that it did not receive an Oscar nod. Then again, the Oscars have never done well with documentaries, shifting the rules every year and often freezing out the worthiest candidates. (Among them James’s earlier success, Hoop Dreams, which the Academy famously snubbed.) Michael Moore slips though, but too many others don’t.

The film’s title refers to three Chicago activists trying to affect change in their community by “interrupting” the deadly gang violence ravaging their streets. Tonight’s guest, Ameena Matthews, is one of those peacemakers, and she belongs to a group called CeaseFire. The daughter of a gang member who became one herself, Ameena succeeded in changing her life, becoming a devout Muslim and focusing on her family. The documentary has shone a spotlight on her work and charismatic personality, which will likely help her reach more people and, perhaps, get more money for the program.

Want to see the film? It’s coming out soon on DVD and Blu-Ray and airing on PBS, appropriately on Valentine’s Day. This article has all the information, along with a mention of Matthews’s TCR and other appearances. Interestingly, the writer says “now THAT should be an interesting pairing :)” about her meeting with Stephen, but I think it will be wonderful. We all know that Stephen loves Chicago, for one, and also aspires to do good in this world. I expect the best.

Until the release, you can watch a scene from the film. Ameena is speaking at a young man’s funeral here.

Visit the film’s official site to get additional information, including background, biographies, and press, or go to its IMDB page. Both have the trailer.

Follow Ameena on Twitter.

Read an interview with Matthew about the film’s success.

Here’s an article on Matthews that appeared in the hometown Chicago Tribune.

The Guardian called her “inspirational.”

Ameena addressed the Oscar situation on Tumblr.

Listen to Matthews’s story on NPR.

UPDATE! Good news: The February 14th airing of Frontline will be dedicated to The Interrupters, and you can watch a preview of it on the show’s website.


Thursday, 2/2: Christiane Amanpour

Christiane AmanpourSometimes, I want to BE Christiane Amanpour. I would even if this friend of the show weren’t getting to appear on The Colbert Report for a fourth time. She’s bright, she’s beautiful, and she’s a serious journalist with a global perspective. Interestingly, she’s visiting the show just two weeks after George Stephanopoulos, who returned to his old job at This Week just after she vacated it. Amanpour instead is returning to her former home at CNN International, while still maintaining a presence at ABC News. Part of her new position will be the renewal of Amanpour, the news show she used to host on CNN before her departure. The general consensus is that she was not a good fit for This Week, so this is probably a good move for everyone involved. Here is her goodbye to the show, delivered in December.

The daughter of Iranian father and English mother, Amanpour was born in London, raised in Tehran until she reached 11 years of age, and then sent back to England for boarding school. She attended college in the US, however, earning a degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island, where she also began her broadcasting career. Her big break came during the Iraq/Iran War, when her knowledge of the region proved valuable to CNN, where she was then working. While the Middle East is a regular beat for Amanpour, she has also covered major stories elsewhere, including New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Amanpour has sometimes been criticized for her reporting on Israel and in Serbia/Bosnia during the conflict there, generally (although not always) by conservative sources.

Amanpour won a Peabody for her work as a special correspondent on 60 Minutes, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcast Journalism, and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. She is a member of the Committee to protect journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation.

She was on The Colbert Report just last year. She also visited in 2009 and in 2006.

Amanpour also appeared on The Daily Show.

Follow her on Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.

Watch excerpts from God’s Warriors, a CNN special she did several years ago. You can judge whether you think she was fair; she was called biased for her reporting here.

Oprah spoke with her in this interview.

How much did she know about bin Laden’s hideout? And when?


Now, let’s check in with our good friend, Jon Stewart!

Once again, Jon keeps one guest a mystery. MYSTERY SOLVED! THURSDAY’S GUEST ANNOUNCED!


Monday, 1/30: Lou Dobbs

Conservative kvetch Lou Dobbs reports for Fox Business, hosts a radio show, and writes for Money magazine. Prior to his stint with Fox, he had his own program, Lou Dobbs Tonight (originally Moneyline), on CNN and also was a VP for that network. (He discussed his departure from CNN with Jon. This is the short one that aired. To see the unedited, three-part version, go  to my list below.) Love the mocking mariachi band playing for the anti-immigration zealot.)

Dobbs has appeared on TCR twice before: in 2007 and in 2005. Stephen has also snatched Dobbs’s audience.  (Jon had the band; Stephen has the fence.)

There was another visit to Jon, in 2008.

Here is the complete, unedited three-parter for the 2009 interview: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Visit his official website or his page on Fox.

Forbes wrote an article on Dobbs’s departure from CNN, which was fraught with controversy. And here’s what The New York Times had to say.

Follow him on Twitter.


Tuesday, 1/31: Jonathan Macey

Stephen has his Harvard constitutional lawyer; Jon has his corporate lawyer from Yale. Jonathan Macey is the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale University; he’s also a a professor at the Yale School of Management. He’s written several books, including a two-volume tome Macey on Corporation Law and received a . Ph.D. honoris causa from the Stockholm School of Economics. Apparently talented in front of a classroom as well as a courtroom, Macey has received several teaching awards, including from the Yale Law Women. Since Macey represents corporations, I wonder what he thinks about them being people?

Here’s his page at the Yale Law School site.

Read an article Macey wrote on Obama’s financial reforms.

In the Wall Street Journal, Macey explained how private equity works—a matter of some discussion these days because of Mitt Romney’s earnings and tax returns.

Here’s another Politico article Macey wrote, this time on a court ruling affecting corporations.


Wednesday, 2/1: Brad Pitt

Mr. Pitt has had quite a year, what with the critical success of Moneyball, a Golden Globe nomination, and now an Oscar nod. The actor, who came to fame as an attractive, seductive, shirtless hunk in Thelma and Louise, has since starred such films as Fight Club, the Ocean’s 11 franchise, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I admit I like him best when he’s being funny, and one of my favorite roles he played is a tiny cameo as a stoner in True Romance. It’s small, but great. In addition to his acting, Pitt is a dedicated social activist. With his strong interest in architecture, he created the “Make It Right” foundation to help rebuild the devastated, post-Katrina New Orleans. And along with his fellow “Oceans 11” acting pals Clooney, Cheadle, and Damon, Pitt has established the human rights group, Not on Our Watch. As everybody from here to Timbuktu knows, he’s also the parent of six little ones with Angelina Jolie.

Entertainment Weekly loved Moneyball, as did the LA Times.

Brad better watch out, he’d better take care: Jokester George Clooney warns he’s planning to play a HUGE prank on Pitt!

Here’s a complete “charity bio” for Pitt.

Pitt has said he’s planning to retire from acting in just a few years.

Brad and Angie have said they won’t marry until everyone can, but they’re reconsidering that position because of their children’s wishes.


Thursday, 2/2: Dr.David B. Agus

Noted oncologist David B. Agus has written a book meant to help us lead longer, healthier lives. The End of Illness draws on the latest, most groundbreaking research to discuss how we can “live robustly until our last breath.” It’s now a New York Times bestseller. Dr. Agus trained at Johns Hopkins and founded two companies: Navigenics, for personal genetics testing, and the website,

Visit Dr Agus’s elaborate and information-packed website.

Listen to him discuss technology and the future of medicine.

Want to know what six blood tests you should take to check out your health? Watch this!

That’s all for this week. Let me know who you most look forward to seeing.
I know I can’t wait!

  • colbaby

    “Stephen” with Bjork should be a trip. I want to see him prance around in that swan dress. He dressed up like Feist once after all! And I too want to be Christiane Amanpour when I grow up. She’s just an all around impressive woman. Wonder if we’ll get another Amanpurr appearance.

    Is Jon having Brad on to balance out the gag factor of Lou Dobbs? If so, well played sir.

    • karenatasha

      Stephen in the swan dress! *Giggle* Well, now that he’s done ballet, maybe this should be his “Swan Lake!”

  • Mr. Arkadin

    IMHO the fact that Bjork has TWELVE Grammy nominations confirms the downfall of western civilization. I apologize to all the Bjork fans (and Doris Kearns Goodwin) for that last statement.
    As colbaby wrote, it should a trip. Of course trips can lead to car wreaks too.

    The other three guest all look solid. Although I love the SuperPac segments. I’d love for “Stephen” to quiz Tribe on how he feels his former student is doing on civil liberties. Unless he’s a complete tool, he can’t be very happy. Sadly, Stephen/”Stephen” doesn’t do that many “in your face” interviews anymore. The last one I can think is the annihilation of Laura Ingraham. That was great!

    Wow! Lou Dobbs and Brad Pitt!? I guess their doing Hollywood hunks week over at TDS. 😉

    Thanks for another great job Karenatasha!

    • Mr. Arkadin

      “it should a trip.”
      Be! Be! It should BE a trip! *headdesk*

    • Ann G

      You get a cookie for that extra apology to Doris Kearns Goodwin.

      • somuch2kno

        Oh, Ann G! You beat me to it! Mr. A strikes (and makes me *snerk*) again!

    • karenatasha

      Ah, Mr. Arkadin: I’m always so glad you’re here! More cookies to you!

      I don’t know how hard he’ll come down on Tribe for what Obama is doing; after all, I’m sure that Tribe would have advised against much of it. Sometimes your students can be so disappointing. But in any case, it would be great if he asked. We shall see.

  • Caroline

    Of this week’s guests, I’m most looking forward to Ameena Matthews – who sounds amazing – and a return visit from Christiane Amanpour.

    • karenatasha

      I think Matthews sounds incredible, too. I can’t wait to see the film. Boo to the Academy Awards.

  • CN Helper

    I like the Bjork, she writes great songs and has a powerful voice, but I understand that she is off the wall and not everyone’s cuppa tea. Definitely looking forward to her meeting Stephen. Ameena Matthews looks cool, and I will compliment TCR on having 2+ female guests per week 2 weeks in a row!! Especially 3 ladies this week.

    • karenatasha

      And two very different ladies, too!

      I do understand that many people respond to Bjork; I just haven’t ever quite “gotten” her. But I agree that the meeting should be very strange. It will either go very well…or be a total disaster, with them both speaking “at” each other. Hoping it’s the former.

  • lockhart43

    Like you hinted at in your above comment, karenatasha, the Bjork interview can either go incredibly well or horribly wrong. And as I am physically incapable of watching something that makes me very uncomfortable and awkward (I can’t watch the Jane Fonda interview for that exact reason), I’m hoping for the former as well.

    I’m most looking forward to the interviews with Laurence Tribe and Ameena Matthews. I won’t turn down a discussion on the SuperPAC and I’ve heard wonderful things about The Interrupters. And two thumbs up for Brad Pitt on TDS on Wednesday! I like him already, and Moneyball was a fantastic movie. I don’t know how they turned it into such a fantastic movie, but they did and I’m so happy for it.

    • karenatasha

      I share your “Fonda” discomfort. When I first watched it (not when it happened, but later), it amused me at the start. But as Stephen became increasingly uncomfortable, so did I. The character just totally disappeared. I wish he’d just kept thinking: I’m an actor! I’m an actor! This is a role!

  • Kris

    I never realized that Michel Gondry had directed Human Behavior! It’d been so long since I’d seen the video… It’s terrible but my thought at the end was that “Stephen” would be happy that they’d portrayed the bear as a godless killing machine:)

    It sounds like we’ll have a pretty great line up on both shows this week.

    I also never knew that Brad and Angelina refused to get married until everyone had the right to. That’s pretty amazing. Thanks for the great report!!

    • karenatasha

      I hadn’t realized about Gondry, either, until I wrote this. I just never followed Bjork. The video I actually remember best of hers is “It’s Oh So Quiet,” which played a lot years ago. That was probably my first encounter with her music, and I wasn’t won over. Guess I’m still not.

      • Kris

        I’ve never owned any of her music either but yeah, in the early to mid nineties when they actually played music on MTV I remember enjoying her bizarreness. Don’t have anything against her but I’m not a fan. I wonder if she’s going to do a song on the show?

  • Katt

    Can’t say I’m overly looking forward to Bjork or Brad Pitt, though I will confess to never having heard a Bjork song. Any recommendations? It is only fair that I listen to some of her music before I diss her completely.

    I will say I am really looking forward to Ameena Matthews and Christiane Amanpour.

    • karenatasha

      I couldn’t recommend the best, although you can listen to the two I posted and begin by seeing how you feel about her voice! “Human Nature” is old, but it was her first big hit, so historically, that’s a good one. And then I chose something new, but not sure which ones to recommend in the “middle” period.

      Fans–which do you like best?

  • susan209

    I don’t know where else to post this! But tonight’s show! Now THAT was a toss!!!!

    • karenatasha

      Glad to provide a temporary home for your joy until the ep guide goes up!

      It was something, wasn’t it? I think they missed their tosses as much as we did.

    • lockhart43

      “I taught that money manners!!!”

      When Stephen started reciting that Liam Neeson monologue from Taken, I lost it.

    • Anna S

      SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Love a chase scene. I was almost expecting Conan.

      • karenatasha

        Such a delight!

        Yes, Lockhart, that was a hysterical line. Pure Stephen.
        And I think the sound of fangirl squeeing is probably resonating around the world right now.

        • lockhart43

          I love how excited each audience gets when Jon shows up on TCR or Stephen shows up on TDS. And how awesome is it that the TDS audience chants “Stephen! Stephen!” every time he shows up!