I know that Stephen and his family have been in our thoughts and hearts over the past few days, and that we, collectively, have been sending him the most fervent of good wishes; I’m sure those who pray have been doing that too. I hope all our strong, good, and caring energy brings comfort to him and his loved ones.
And I hope something else too: that the public and the media will allow Stephen the privacy he deserves and needs, now and in the future, this time and any time. I enjoy Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks, and have met, or reconnected, with some wonderful people that way—including all of you fabulous Hubster friends and fangirls. But the explosion of insanity out there stunned even me, who is acutely aware of Stephen’s popularity. People were e-mailing me with questions, many punctuated with triple exclamation points. (No, I have no insider knowledge.) There were more rumors and conspiracy theories swirling around his brief absence than over the Kennedy assassination, and that’s just madness. I’m sure I needn’t say more about some of the nonsense out in the Twitterverse; most of you are probably aware of it and I won’t dignify it. I would, however, like to re-quote something our own Susan209 posted: “With regard to the media’s response (and ours too), the New Yorker online had this to say: ‘You know who would do a great satire of that kind of media overhype? Stephen Colbert.’” Indeed. Thank you, Susan, for finding that.
Now, on the work side of things, is it too much to hope that both Jon and Stephen will take on that piece of you-know-what named Chris Christie? The New Jersey governor has just vetoed the bill allowing gay marriage in his state, despite the legislature’s approval. I simply despise Christie, and the thought that he could become a vice-presidential candidate makes me more than a little queasy. Jon, you grew up in New Jersey; Stephen, you live there now. PLEASE take him down comedically.
Now, here are the scheduled guests for the week.
Monday, 2/20: Ann Patchett
The week begins with a top novelist whose newest book sounds incredibly compelling to me. Ann Patchett is the New York Times bestselling author of Bel Canto, which won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award and Orange Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Brazilianist that I am, I’m eager to read her most recent work because it’s set in that country—the Amazon, to be exact—plus, it deals with a fascinating subject. State of Wonder follows pharmacologist Marina Singh on her quest to find a missing researcher who had gone to the jungle in hopes of developing a wonder drug. It seems that the women in a particular Amazonian tribe can bear children all their lives, and the corporation Marina works for knows that if they can uncover the secret of this extraordinary fertility it stands to make quite a lot of money. The Guardian calls it “her best book yet” (read the interview) and The New York Times praises it as an “engaging, consummately told tale.”
Patchett earned degrees from both Sarah Lawrence and from the famed Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. In addition to novels, she has written short stories, essays, and other nonfiction, most prominently Truth and Beauty, which won countless awards including the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Alex Award from the American Library Association.
Visit her official site.
She joined soprano Renee Fleming on NPR to discuss music, inspiration, and the literary imagination.
Listen to her discuss State of Wonder on the Diane Rehm Show.
Ann Patchett did something wonderful: she opened an independent bookstore in her hometown of Nashville, a true act of faith in our online world. You can visit the store’s site. According to the ColbertNation website, she’ll be discussing the store with Stephen.
The Daily Beast called State of Wonder “one of the best books of the year,” likening it to Joseph Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness.
There is someone who has taken issue with Patchett: Suellen Grealy, sister of Lucy Grealy, the subject of Patchett’s Truth and Beauty.
Tuesday, 2/21: Robert Kagan
Like George W. Bush, Robert Kagan was a Yalie (as an undergraduate) and member of the secretive, elite Skull & Bones society. And like Bush, he’s a staunch conservative. Kagan, who earned his PhD from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, works as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as a professor of history at Georgetown University, and as a columnist for the Washington Post. He’s also the author of a new book, The World America Made, which examines the potential repercussions if the US became more isolationist and curtailed its global influence. In addition, Kagan examines claims that we as a country have declined. But he does warn us that things could become very violent if we “commit preemptive superpower suicide,” to use the words the book’s publisher, Knopf, highlights in its description of the work.
Kagan has served as a foreign policy adviser to Representative Jack Kemp and on the State Department Policy Planning Staff, as well as on the Department’s Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. In the last election, he worked for John McCain and he now advises Mitt Romney. (If he really wants to help Romney, he’ll tell him NEVER to ride to Canada with the dog on top of the car again. He’ll also tell the Mittster to try and seem human and not a waxwork.) Kagan’s other books include Of Paradise and Power, about the often-troubled relationship between the US and Europe, and Dangerous Nation.
Read the New York Times review of The World America Made.
The Washington Post–where he works—has also covered the book, and this article includes an interview with Kagan.
Kagan also writes for the Weekly Standard.
He wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal on “Why the World Needs America,” the subject of the book.
Hear him on The Diane Rehm Show.
Like him on Facebook—though he hasn’t really posted.
Wednesday, 2/22: Rep. Nancy Pelosi
She told everyone else not to speak to him—but now she’s stepping into the Stephen-den herself! Just a little more than a week after she launched her “Stop Stephen Colbert!” campaign, former Speaker of the House and Representative from California’s 8th District Nancy Pelosi is coming on to get better known. Maybe her daughter Alexandra convinced mom after her last visit?
Actually, I think Ms. Pelosi—probably the most powerful woman in American politics–has risked it all to appear because something very important is going on in Washington: the fight to have women’s birth control covered by insurance. Specifically, the issue involves women who work for religiously-affiliated institutions, such as hospitals run by the Catholic church. Let’s be clear: this isn’t the church itself, but “satellite” organizations, if you will—ones that can and do receive tax money. The struggle became more heated this past week when a congressional panel convened to discuss the issue, and no women were included in the initial group that testified. Interestingly, Pelosi herself is Catholic, having attended the Institute of Notre Dame (a high school), followed by Trinity College.
Pelosi had long been involved in politics even before she became a representative in 1987, and she has held her congressional seat ever since. While in Congress, she has achieved a number of “firsts,” including being the first woman Minority Whip and the first female Speaker of the House. She is the author of Know Your Power: A Message for America’s Daughters.
Follow her on Twitter.
Like her on Facebook.
Here’s a little background on her in the Washington Post.
She has a YouTube channel. (The “Stop Colbert” video is prominent there, too.)
Pelosi did an “It Gets Better” video.
She appeared on The Daily Show in 2009.
Thursday, 2/23: Placido Domingo
Here is what I posted a few weeks ago when Mr. Domingo was first scheduled to appear: First a classical cello player (YoYo Ma), then ballet’s best (Hallberg), now an opera legend: Stephen’s beginning to corner the high-culture market. Happy 71st birthday, Placido Domingo! Domingo was one of the “Three Tenors” (along with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras), whose blockbuster records, concerts, and TV broadcasts helped make the once-elite musical form wildly popular. Last year, he celebrated his 50th year in opera: he made his stage debut in La Traviata in Monterey, Mexico back in 1961. In honor of that anniversary, a variety of record companies re-released several of his CDs—and he received an honorary doctorate from Harvard. During Domingo’s unparalleled career, he took on a stunning 134 roles; won 12 Grammy® awards, including three Latin Grammys; and made more than 100 recordings.
He recently announced the 20th edition of the World Opera Competition, which will take place from June 4-10th in Beijing (where you used to be jailed or sent to the farms for political re-education if you played Western classical music). Domingo founded the contest with the goal of “discover[ing] and honor[ing] the best new young opera singers of today.”
The Madrid-born tenor has now turned his musical talents to conducting, and he also serves as the general director of both the LA Opera and the Washington National Opera. But not to worry; he continues to sing, and will perform the lead in Simon Boccanegra with LA Opera this year–which is pretty incredible as few opera performers can sustain their voice over such a long period of time.
Visit his official website to get news, find out about those re-released CDs, and much more.
PBS did an American Masters on him. (Though strictly speaking, while he’s a master, he’s not American.)
He made his debut in La Traviata, and fortunately, his performance in that opera was captured forever by filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli.
Here he is singing “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, one of the most famous arias in opera.
Go to his artist page on NPR.
Domingo not only sings—he Tweets!
Here’s part of a mini-documentary on him.
And now, let’s check in with our good friend Jon Stewart!
As always, a TBA. I thought there wouldn’t be. The original listing had a Wednesday guest—Bruce Bartlett, author of The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take— but his name has been removed from The Daily Show site.
Monday, 2/20: Alan Huffman & Michael Rejebian
You’ve seen it: a candidate seems to be going strong, and suddenly out comes the career-crushing news: (s)he’s had an affair, taken a questionable loan, had a friend who’s just a little unsavory and makes the electorate uneasy. Who finds out this gossip? Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian can tell you something about it, since they’ve personally dug up the dirt on politics and politicians. Huffman and Rejebian are the authors of We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics, and both men have had experience working to defeat candidates for every type of office, big and small, by revealing the skeletons in their closets. What they do has been given the euphemistic, clinical name of “oppositional research,” and it’s not limited to any single party or political viewpoint. Somehow, I think this topic is really going to fascinate Jon.
Watch the book trailer.
Follow them on Twitter.
Like them on Facebook.
Read a review in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Publishers Weekly did a Q&A with the two men.
Tuesday, 2/21: Russ Feingold
Former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold makes his second visit to The Daily Show to promote his new book: While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call for the Post-9/11 Era. Feingold believes that our response to the attacks has weakened, not strengthened, the country, and compromised our constitutional rights and our ability to defend ourselves. A former Rhodes Scholar, the Democrat Feingold reached across the aisle to team with John McCain in an attempt to curb campaign spending. He’s still interested in limiting corporate influence in our elections, and so he’s established a PAC called Progressives United to continue his efforts even outside of the Senate. He discussed the PAC with Stephen.
Like him on Facebook.
Follow him on Twitter.
When Feingold lost his seat, McCain praised him on the Senate floor.
In The Nation, he stated his determination not to run for another political position.
Feingold is an equal opportunity criticizer: he’s hit at Obama for his SuperPac position.
New Yorkers and those in the vicinity, he’s appearing at the New School this Wednesday.
Wednesday, 2/22: ?
Thursday, 2/23: Paul Rudd
What a good friend of the show! Actor and screenwriter Paul Rudd has been a regular visitor to The Daily Show since way back in 1999. In fact he’s appeared a whopping 10 times, last time in 2010. (If you want to see every one, visit the show’s guest page, click on Rudd’s photo, and you’ll find all the links.) Rudd’s films include the delightful Clueless, 40 Year Old Virgin (with Daily Show alumnus Steve Carell, of course ) and Knocked Up, among many others. His newest movie is Wanderlust, with frequent co-star and former Jon crush Jennifer Aniston. Rudd played her boyfriend in Friends and now he’s her husband in this Judd Apatow-produced comedy, directed by David Wain. A tale for our economic times, Wanderlust focuses on a couple who find themselves in a freewheeling, hippie-like commune after unemployment forces them to give up their fast track life in New York City.
Watch the Wanderlust trailer.
Like him on Facebook.
Here’s Rudd’s IMDB page, where you can see that he’s set to act in four films that are currently in pre-production.
Rudd pitched super-producer Harvey Weinstein in this “Funny or Die” video. I actually think Weinstein is pretty funny doing very little.
The New York Times published an interview with Wanderlust director David Wain this very weekend.
That’s all for this week. Let’s welcome Stephen back to the Report with all our best wishes.