Better Know a Guest: February 13 — 16, 2012

The Colbert Report Guest Line Up Hello, Hubsters!

The boys are back in town, so welcome, everyone, to a new week of fun. So much has happened since we’ve last seen Misters Colbert and Stewart. Rick Santorum has managed to energize his campaign by winning three caucuses, throwing the GOP into a tizzy–although the recent Conservative Political Action Conference has reaffirmed its support for Romney. (Well, kind of; add it up and the other three candidates–Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul–have more votes than Romney, meaning a majority of the group doesn’t favor Mitty.) Karen Handel has been forced to resign from the Susan B. Komen Foundation after the uproar over Planned Parenthood. Iran is about to announce that it has made strides in nuclear technology. And Syria has suffered massive bloodshed, as numerous protesters have been killed or beaten by government forces.

In short, there’s a lot of material for Stephen and Jon to choose from. I figure Santorum (Google it) will probably be a major focus. And funny thing here: my spell check didn’t like “Santorum” and suggested that I might wish to use “sanatorium” instead. Even spell check knows not everything is well with him.

And, off subject, I wish to say RIP, Whitney Houston. Sadly, it wasn’t a surprise but it is tragic.

Now on to this week’s guests.


Monday, 2/13: Bill McKibben

Bill McKIbbenIt’s eco-friendly night on The Colbert Report! Environmentalist Bill McKibben founded Step it Up and, a grassroots organization that is “building a global movement to solve the climate crisis.” The name comes from scientific data that suggests 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the most we can bear—and the percentage of CO2 in our atmosphere just keeps growing. The group is fighting such nature-destroying projects as the Keystone Pipeline, which would carry crude all across Canada and into the US. The project was initiated by the TransCanada Corporation (O Canada!) and has generated intense criticism from environmentalists. Right now, there’s an effort to get the pipeline going again. My own opinion: sign whatever petition you can to stop it.

McKibben has written several books, starting with The End of Nature in 1989, which Random House then reissued on its 10th anniversary. His most recent, released March 2011, was Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Yes, it is spelled “eaarth” in the title: McKibben argues that we’ve changed our planet so much through global warming that we should now think of Earth as something totally different than it was before, and learn new methods of survival.

A native New Englander, (Lexington, Mass.), McKibben is now the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Vermont’s prestigious Middlebury College. He has received Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, as well as the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing.

This is his third appearance on The Colbert Report: he is now officially a friend of the show! In fact, his last visit wasn’t that long ago—only in November 2011, when he discussed the Keystone Pipeline. He also visited back in August 2009 to talk about carbon dioxide levels.

Visit his official site, rich in links and information.

Like him on Facebook.

Follow him on Twitter.

Read an article on him and his fight against Keystone in The New Yorker.

Here’s an article he wrote, reprinted in The Nation, about a subject near and dear to Stephen: fighting the influence of corporate funds.


Tuesday, 2/14: William Broad

William BroadIf yoga is the path to enlightenment, how could a discussion of this ancient art cause such a furor? When William Broad’s article on the dangers of yoga—excerpted from his book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards–appeared in The New York Times Magazine, reaction was swift. Yogaphiles were quick to defend the form, noting that the problem sometimes lay with teachers, or with America’s penchant for turning everything into a competition, rather than with the practice itself. (I myself thought the comic photos used for the article were a serious misstep by the Times and unworthy of the discussion.) Without a doubt, Broad’s scary stories of strokes in the yoga studio and permanent crippling probably struck fear into the hearts of many—especially as some of the victims were long-time, expert practitioners, not newbies who didn’t know what they were doing. Broad’s interest lay in finding out exactly what benefits yoga provided, since it’s often treated as some kind of magical pill for all remedies. As an occasional practitioner (although not so much recently), I found it an excellent workout as long as I had a knowledgeable instructor; remained mindful of my body’s capabilities; and didn’t try to get in some kind of contest with the people in class who could twist themselves into pretzels.

Broad, a distinguished journalist for The New York Times, shared two Pulitzer Prizes with his colleagues for their reporting on President Reagan’s dangerous “Star Wars” missile pipe dream as well as the space shuttle Challenger tragedy. He also won an Emmy® for a PBS NOVA program based on his New York Times bestselling book (co-written with Judith Miller and Stephen Engelberg) Germs, about germ warfare, and a DuPont Award. In his biography on his official website (see link below), Broad says this about his work:  “My books and awards reflect my decision to focus on exploring the social repercussions of science – threatening ones as well as the beneficial. My longtime goal has been to help avoid the bad and encourage the good.” Now would it be too much to hope that Stephen will show us his downward dog?

Visit his official website where you can read lots of reviews of The Science of Yoga, watch a video, and get links to his other books. Make sure to look at his “About the Author” to see all of his awards.

Check out his New York Times blogrunner.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

USA Today wrote an article on his book. And here’s one from Kirkus Reviews.

I said the book received criticism from the yoga community: here’s an example, from Pranamaya.

Broad appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air.


Wednesday, 2/15: Claire Danes

Claire DanesIf you’re the right age, she made an impression on you as a disaffected teenager is My So-Called Life, the buzz-filled show that won a passionate—though not quite large enough–audience. But unlike many young stars, Claire Danes smoothly made the transition into adulthood, with nary a DUI arrest or rehab stay to her name. Instead, she’s carved out a rich career as an award-winning actress. Her most recent success was the Showtime series Homeland, in which she played a bipolar CIA agent who suspects that a Marine—returning from Iraq after having been MIA–may not be quite all he seems. The show just been picked up for another season, so there’s more drama to come. (Homeland, for my fellow X-Files fans, was created by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, writer/producers on Files.) Danes’s performance nabbed her second Golden Globe® in a row, following last year’s win for her depiction of Temple Grandin. (She also got Emmy® and SAG awards for Grandin.)

Her notable films include: Romeo + Juliet (with Leonardo DiCaprio); The Hours, based on the eponymous novel by Michael Cunningham; Shopgirl, from Steve Martin’s semi-autobiographical novel; and Me and Orson Welles, from Robert Kaplow’s novel. She’s just completed As Cool As I Am, in which she co-stars with Jeremy Sisto and James Marsden. And she was recently honored by Harvard’s famed Hasty Pudding Theatricals as Woman of the Year.

Visit her “So-Called Homepage.”

Check out her IMDB page to see all her films and TV programs.

Homeland was enormously successful for Showtime, which has crept up on, and some say exceeded, its rival HBO.

She’s was on The Colbert Report before, two years ago, to discuss Temple Grandin. Stephen’s interest in the autism, more than the “Hollywood” aspect of the film, appeals to me.

Here’s her Golden Globes acceptance speech for Homeland.

Britain’s Daily Mail wrote an article on how she had “blossomed.”

And speaking of “blossomed”: here she is on The Jon Stewart Show back in 1997. She was 15 and it was her first talk show appearance! And she returned to talk with Jon again, 10 years later, on The Daily Show.


Thursday, 2/16: Susan Cain

Susan CainAmerica has always valued outgoing, even oversize personalities, or how else could a blustery windbag like Donald Trump be where he is? Parents worry about the seemingly shy child, the introvert, the one that goes off and quietly reads or draws. But is extroverted always better? Susan Cain aims to answer that question in her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. She feels that those with a more sensitive nature often listen better, think more carefully before they act, and have greater creativity.

This is Cain’s first book, and it’s garnering a huge amount of attention. Previously, this Harvard Law School graduate was a corporate attorney with some very high-profile clients, including J.P. Morgan and General Electric. She’s now writing full-time and not practicing law anymore. Since she describes herself as introverted, she’s probably enjoying her newly calm life in upstate New York with her family.

Cain laid out her ideas in this article for Time Magazine. She makes a firm distinction between “shy” and “introverted,” although she does note that people with either type of personality may suffer some of the same problems in our society. There’s also a link here to a quiz where you can find out where you lie on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

Hear an interview with Cain on CBS News.

Newsday did an article on her, and so did Forbes.

Cain wrote an op-ed criticizing “groupthink” for The New York Times. In groups, there is no quiet to think.

Random House has a publisher page for the book with reviews and other information.

Follow Cain on Twitter.


And now, let’s check in with our good friend Jon!

This week we have a familiar guest: TBA is back again, on Wednesday. At least for now.


Monday, 2/13: Fawzia Koofi

This is a guest I can’t wait to see. Women in Afghanistan have had an unimaginably difficult time, especially (but not only) during the Taliban’s rule. And Afghani businesswoman and human rights activist Fawzia Koofi experienced it firsthand from her earliest hours: her mother left her out to die. You see, she was the 19th daughter…and wasn’t wanted. But, amazingly, she survived, and may yet become president after having served as the first women speaker of parliament in the country. Her new book, The Favored Child, tells her story–for herself and for her daughters.

Visit her website. It features excerpts from her writing, videos in several languages, and a place to donate to her human rights efforts.

Will she become Afghanistan’s first female president? Read this article in The Daily Beast.

Here, she speaks in Ms. magazine of her desire to leave a better Afghanistan for her daughters.

TIME magazine asked her 10 questions.

Like her on Facebook.


Tuesday, 2/14: Ricky Gervais

Fresh on his second year hosting the Golden Globes, Ricky comes to visit Jon again. We all know him: creator of the original The Office, as well as the hilarious Extras; movie actor, stand-up, and delightfully snarky host. His most recent series is Life’s Too Short, starring actor 3′ 6″ actor Warwick Davis as a fictionalized version of himself. (There seems to be an epidemic of that lately, including Matt LeBlanc’s wonderful Episodes and another featuring Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek, although Gervais did it first.) The show is premiering in the US on HBO on January 19th. Gervais also hosts a podcast named, fittingly enough, The Ricky Gervais Show. He’s won countless awards, including seven BAFTAs (the British equivalent of the Oscars) and two Emmys.

He has been on The Daily Show so many times, he’s become more than just a friend; he’s practically a semi-regular. His last visit–complete with an extended interview–took place less than a year ago, in April 2011, Before that, he appeared in December 2010. If you want to see all nine interviews, head to the Daily Show site, where they’re listed in this week’s guest information. Just click on his pic. Can’t blame Jon for having him on so often; he and Gervais are hysterical together.

Visit Ricky Gervais’s website.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Here’s an article on his recent Golden Globes gig.

He’s one of Britain’s wealthiest comedians.


Wednesday,  2/15: TBA

Who will it be?


Thursday, 2/16: Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan is President Obama’s Secretary of Education, and given Jon’s interest in the subject, this should be a good interview. I’m really eager to see how it goes, because I suspect Duncan’s views differ from Jon’s. Interestingly, this Harvard graduate went from being a professional basketball player in Australia to teaching to becoming CEO of the Chicago Public School System. Perhaps that’s why he tends to think competitively, such as his “Race to the Top,” where school systems across the nation vie for funding. In order to get the precious dollars, they have to institute innovations and improve test scores. Duncan has won the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s Enterprising Educator Award, among other honors.

Here’s his page on the Department of Education site.

Like him on Facebook.

Follow him on Twitter.

In 2011, he and actor Matt Damon–whose mother, like Jon’s, was a teacher–expressed clashing views on teacher pay and recruitment. I happen to love the Damon speech, which went viral.

Duncan appeared on The Colbert Report in 2009.


That’s all for this week! Can’t wait to see the new shows. Which guests make you the happiest?

  • Mr. Arkadin

    Hi Karenatasha! Great to “see” you and BKG back! I think there’s something about all of Stephen’s guests I’d like to see. But for some reason I’m most excited about Danes coming back on. I can’t really explain why. I didn’t grow up with her. (BTW: I’m pretty sure you meant 1997 not 2007 for “The Jon Stewart Show.” No big deal.) It’s just that female actors rarely come on TCR in general and for some reason I’m thrilled that she’s been on and is coming back. Maybe other actresses will now get a clue and come on. It could start a trend!

    As far as Jon? I’m most looking forward to Gervais and Duncan. Ricky because he and Jon together are a laugh riot. And Duncan because I’m hoping Jon will challenge him on this “Waiting for Superman” crap that all these neo-liberals are embracing.
    And I agree with you about Damon too. :)

    • karenatasha

      Thanks, Mr. Arkadin–and I have made the correction! Yes, it was 1997. I think she was very charming with Jon and very together with Stephen; I think she’s an it-getter. Interesting what you say about female actors being on the show. Actually, there are far fewer male ones even than Jon has. I think Stephen still resists the celebrity crowd a bit, though I’d love to see him and Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson.

      I did not see “Waiting for Superman,” although I should try to watch it if it’s ever on TV. A good friend whose taste I trust came back in a rage, saying that it was the most pernicious film she’d seen in a long time. What really bothered her is that she felt it disguised its lies and biases very well, and that his argument was easy to swallow until you actually took the time to ponder Guggenheim’s argument. I’m certainly hoping Jon will come through with Duncan. He’s usually pretty dependable when it comes to teachers.

      • Mr. Arkadin

        …”though I’d love to see him and Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson.” I agree! I’d also add Cate Blanchett.

        I have not seen “Waiting for Superman” either. (Although I’ve heard it compared to the films of Leni Riefenstahl in how effective it is as propaganda. I think by a former W. Bush official!) I was using the title as short-hand for the movement to cripple teacher’s unions and privatize schools. That all those Michelle Rhee fans in the democratic party (and, sadly, the White House) have endorsed.

        • karenatasha

          Oh, I did get that! And you’re right: it’s fans of that film who insist on pushing an agenda that doesn’t work for teachers or for kids. And it’s so unfair to Geoffrey Canada and his project, which the film extols, apparently without pointing out that Canada developed a plan that involved the whole community. He’s concerned with not only the school but the entire social structure that nurtures a child. None of which interests the Guggenheims or the Rhees of the world.

          And I love Cate Blanchett, too! I was privileged to see her perform on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Hedda Gabler and Streetcar Named Desire). She’s was wonderful.

          • Caroline

            Karen and Mr. A –

            I recently watched “Waiting for Superman” with two friends – all three of us have teaching backgrounds. I am a former ESL teacher (abroad). The other two are a current U.S. public school teacher and an ex Teach for America member, who is now a community college professor. So, if anyone should have hated the film and thought it was unfair, it would have been us.

            But we all thought it was powerful, heart-breaking, and made some good points. Yes, parts of it are manipulative, but it still is worth watching and will definitely make you think.

            The film does make the AFT union chief look bad, but that is partly her own fault,in my opinion. And I wasn’t impressed with Michelle Rhee, either.

            Anyway, I highly recommend the film – even though it is not perfect.

            • Karenatasha

              Not having seen it, it’s hard for me to say. What I can tell you is that my friend’s disgust with the film focused on what she considered outright lies. The voiceover would have a vague comment about statistics or so forth, or make a generalization, and just gloss over providing the facts. Yes, your “heartbreaking” point wasn’t disputed, but sometimes when you’re in the middle of heartbreak, you don’t stop to consider whether the story you’re hearing is truthful. My friend is pretty good on the facts and knew there were errors and unproven statements.

              Also, what I do know, is that Geoffrey Canada has never simply focused on the school itself. He directs his attention to the entire neighborhood and the overall social needs of the child and family, whether it be food; a space to study; or parents who need a little support. That’s exactly the sort of thing Michelle Rhee doesn’t care about. Many of the people who extol his work aren’t interested in providing the entire range of services he believes is necessary for a child’s success.

              I will at some point see the film. I’m sure it will touch me, because those children are touching and deserve more than our public school system is giving them right now. I’m just not sure that the type of people Guggenheim supports will ever make it better.

              Now, after all this, I should reiterate that Duncan himself has nothing to do with the film. But he is an example of the “business” mentality that has co-opted education in our country. He has few credentials as an educator, and much more as a CEO.

      • Tdotter

        You might want to take another stab at the date. The Jon Stewart Show was cancelled in June of 1995.

        • karenatasha

          Aargh! The first video I found of Danes’s appearance had a date of December 1997 and that is what I meant to type. Your e-mail sent me searching again and I found ANOTHER posted video of the show, this time dated June 2004. Sigh.

          My sincerest apologies. I hate making mistakes and to have two on the same video is mortifying. Thanks for the correction.

          By the way, I do realize Jon did not have Fawzia Koofi on last night, but in that case, I did check everything before I posted. At that point–late afternoon Monday–she was still the listed guest on the Daily Show site. I was sorry about that, because I was looking forward to her.

          • karenatasha

            Okay, let’s try this again. The first video had a date of 1997–not 2007. Darn. I am tired.

            Also, the edit function didn’t work.

            • Tdotter

              Again, though, it couldn’t have been 1997 because Jon’s show was cancelled in 2005….

            • Tdotter

              I mean, 1995. See, now you have ME doing it.

            • Karenatasha

              I didn’t remember when Jon’s show was cancelled, though, so when I saw the wrong date on the first video I didn’t hear any warning bells. But giving it a 2007 date was absolutely my mistake–100%!

  • Caroline

    A reminder to everyone who liked Ameena Matthews, when she was a guest on TCR a couple weeks ago. “The Interrupters” documentary – about her group’s efforts to fight gang violence in Chicago – airs TONIGHT (Feb 14) on Frontline. My PBS station is showing it at 9 pm EST. Get your DVRs ready!

    • Karenatasha

      I’m planning to DVR! I must admit, in real time, I’m going to watch the finals of the Westminster Dog Show. Sorry–just can’t resist the doggies!

  • Katt

    Seriously looking forward to Ricky Gervais. He and Jon are always such a hoot together!!

  • AgentNutmeg

    Does anyone know why the Wednesday and Thursday TCR are cancelled? Apparently they updated the guest list earlier today and now those shows are going to be repeats.

    • karenatasha

      Hi, AgentNutmeg: No, none of us knows. I heard about it this afternoon, but we have not heard why.