Better Know a Guest: February 27 – March 1, 2012

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpHello, Hubsters

Wasn’t it wonderful to have Stephen on the air again and in such joyful spirits? From Monday’s brilliant back-to-work monologue (“Apparently, having 11 children makes you tough as nails”) to Thursday’s hysterical mix of Wheat Thins takedown, mass circumcisions, and closing aria, it was truly the week that was. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that Stephen got Nancy Pelosi to okay future BKAD’s! All good, all great.

And I can tell you that from my perspective—and that of Trek fans everywhere–there’s a special treat coming up. In addition, Claire Danes, whose appearance was postponed,is getting her shot.

Before I move on, I’d just like to call everyone’s attention to an article in today’s New York Times on Mitt Romney’s SuperPac situation. No mention of Stephen, but all I can say is that whatever he and Jon conspired to do has nothing on the Mittster and his Paccies.



Monday, 2/27: Peggielene Bartels

Peggielene BartelsFairy tales have always encouraged us to dream of transformation, to hope that with a little magic we can morph from Cinderella to Queen. For Peggielene Bartels, this fantasy sort of came true—with a big twist, because she’s not queen, she’s king. And it wasn’t a handsome prince that turned her into royalty: instead it took a village…an entire African village, after her uncle, the former king, died. Nor does her new position mean wealth and luxury, for her “realm” is Otuam, a poor fishing community in Ghana. So if you’re envisioning palaces, start thinking a fixer-upper–one that’s crumbling and ruined, but might have potential.

Bartels’s unique experience is documented in a book co-written with Eleanor Herman called King Peggy:  An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village. In fact, Bartels has kept her day job as a secretary for the Ghanaian Embassy—and as we all know, there’s no one better than a good secretary to take control and get things organized. She certainly has her work cut out for her: Bartels had to confront problems ranging from no running water to stolen funds—all that as a stranger in a place where no woman had ever held a position of power. (At least not officially: African women have a tradition of finding roundabout ways to make their voices heard, usually to the betterment of everyone.)

Visit the “King Peggy” website.

Hear her on NPR.

Watch her on Tavis Smiley.

Gayle King and Erica Hill interviewed her for CBS News.

The Washington Post wrote an excellent article about Bartels.

Kirkus Reviews reviewed the book, which they called “a winning tale of epic proportions.”

Follow her on Twitter.


Tuesday, 2/28: Ross Eisenbrey

Ross EisenbreyIn our uncertain economic times, many of us wonder: will we always be able to find a job–and to work in safety? What will happen if we cannot obtain affordable health care? What about our dreams of retiring in security? These questions occupy Ross Eisenbrey too. He’s Vice President of the Economic Policy Institute, and he focuses on labor law, occupational safety and health, and pensions. The EPI is a think tank that describes itself as dedicated to enhancing prosperity and finding economic solutions, especially to the problems that plague low- and middle- wage workers. Formerly, Eisenbrey served as commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission as well as a staff lawyer in the House of Representatives.

Eisenbrey writes for various journals, including the Huffington Post, and his articles cover social security and the safety net; trade agreements; and even his struggle against the Tea Party. One essay has a title I particularly love:  “Democrats Are for Kids and Republicans Are Just Kidding.” He, along with co-writer Kathryn Edwards, has also weighed in on another contentious issue: unpaid internships, which many believe foster inequality and inhibit job growth. It seems, from a few tweets I have read (not Eisenbrey’s—he doesn’t tweet) this is going to be the subject of his discussion with Stephen. Jay the intern, anyone?

Read Eisenbrey’s full bio.

Like the Economic Policy Institute page on Facebook.

Eisenbrey supports unemployment benefits and believes it contributes to job growth.

Here’s a good list of his reports and articles, with links.

Watch a video of Eisenbrey addressing the National Labor Relations Board.

Read an article he wrote with Monique Morrissey for The New York Times on pensions.


Wednesday, 2/29: William Shatner

William Shatner Beam him up to 54th Street! (Okay, I couldn’t resist.) One voyager of the starship Enterprise has finally reached the final frontier: aka The Colbert Report. After all, where else in the universe would you rather be—somewhere with spore-spewing aliens? Methinks not. Anyway, Stephen: he is for you. (Points to anyone who gets that reference.) The man who played the indomitable Captain James Tiberius Kirk on the original Star Trek, and who memorably told Trekkiesers to “get a life” on SNL currently has a new and well-reviewed Broadway show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It. In this limited run appearance, Shatner—who actually has a delightful sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously—discusses his life and work.

Although most famous for his iconic role on Star Trek, the Canadian-born Shatner actually began his acting career in the Montreal Children’s Theater, but took a hiatus to earn a degree in economics from McGill University. He then joined the acclaimed Stratford Festival in Ontario, performing roles not only in Shakespeare, but also in other classic plays by Sophocles and Marlowe. (On the lighter side, he also starred in The Canadian Howdy Doody Show.)  Shatner moved on to film and TV, including an unforgettable appearance in Rod Serling’s brilliant Twilight Zone Series. In the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode, Shatner played a terrified passenger who thinks a gremlin is on the wing of his plane, trying to crash it—a role that friend of the show John Lithgow reprised in the 1983 Twilight Zone film. The life-altering Trek came along in 1966 and lasted only three years; then,in 1979, it came back to life in a series of hugely successful movies. In addition to the SF cult favorite, Shatner enjoyed success in other TV shows including T.J. Hooker, in which he played a cop, and the recent Boston Legal for which he won both a Golden Globe® and an Emmy®.

While Shatner has never been interviewed by Jon, he turned up in two The Daily Show segments: in one, Mo Rocca presented him as a “foreign language star” (speaking Esperanto) and last year he appeared in a Moment of Zen.

Shatner spoke about his SNL taping experience.

Like the Facebook page for his new show.

Visit Shatner’s official website to buy tickets to his show, get information about upcoming appearances, buy an autographed copy of his book, and more.

Follow him on Twitter. You know you want to!

When he was dropped from the Priceline commercials, they killed him off. (Really? You have to kill off a commercial character not to bring him back?)

Shatner has a YouTube channel.

Comedy Central roasted him.

The Captain presents Elton John’s “Rocket Man” in a talking version.

He’s written several books, including the most recent, Shatner Rules. You can read an excerpt on the publisher’s book page.

He was not in J.J. Abrams’s recent Star Trek prequel. Here Shatner talks about the situation.


Thursday, 3/1: 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.


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

This week we have TWO TBAs, so I’m not yet posting full descriptions. But the two guests we do know are both incredible!

UPDATE: The Daily Show site has not confirmed this, but the Late Night TV Page says that Wednesday’s guest is Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (read a review of the book in the Daily Beast), and Thursday’s will be M. Cathleen Kaveny, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and professor of theology at Notre Dame. Kaveny’s work focuses specifically on morality and the law. Here is an article she wrote on the Catholic Church and feminism in America Magazine. The Late Night TV Page has turned out to be correct in the past, so I’m hoping they are now. I’m particularly interested in Gessen’s book, as Putin seems to me to be a quite frightening figure.

Monday, 2/27: Neil deGrasse Tyson

On Monday, we have a BIG friend to both Stephen and Jon—and like Mr. Shatner, he takes us to the stars: the wonderful, marvelous, one-of-a-kind Neil deGrasse Tyson. Yay! Astrophysicist Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, host of PBS’s NOVA Science Now and the StarTalk Radio website, interviewer of Stephen Colbert, and tireless fighter for science education and literacy. His newest book is Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Do I love him? Yes, I do.

Like him on Facebook.

Follow him on Twitter.

Go to his Hayden Planetarium page.(Or just visit the regular Planetarium page to see what this wonderful organization has to offer.)

He’s been on The Daily Show numerous  times, of course; here is his most recent appearance. To see the others, go to the TDS guest page, and click on Tyson’s picture. And let’s look at his most recent TCR visit, too–taking on Bill O’Reilly!


Tuesday, 2/28: Stephen Merchant

Just recently, Ricky Gervais visited Jon. Now it’s his partner’s turn. Tuesday, February 28th, brings us the very funny Stephen Merchant, who helped create the British version of The Office with Gervais, as well as their follow-up shows, The Extras and the new Life’s Too Short. He’s won numerous awards for his work: three BAFTAs; four British Comedy Awards, and an Emmy. Merchant began as a stand-up comic, and returned to that last year with a show called “Hello, Ladies.” In addition to working with Gervais, he’s appeared in many movies, including Hall Pass, Cemetery Junction, a voice-over in the animated Gnomeo and Juliet, and Portal 2.

Visit his website.

Read an interview with him in the LA Times on doing stand-up. The New York Times spoke with him, too.

Follow him on Twitter.

Watch an improv clip of Life’s Too Short with Liam Neeson, the show’s star, Warwick Davis, Gervais, and Merchant.

The Evening Standard did an article on him.

Merchant says we “can’t have a president called Newt.”


More to come on this week’s guests…when Jon gives us more!


That’s all–wishing everyone a good week to come. Please remember to let me know which guest excites you most.

  • colbaby

    Stephen Merchant!!! You have no idea how excited I got when I saw that. I adore that man. And seeing his 6’7″ frame next to Jon is going to be hilarious. Also majorly excited for Neil Degrasse Tyson, as always.

    As for TCR, I’m looking forward to King Peggy. Talk about taking up the gauntlet. My god.

    • karenatasha

      Oh, I forgot how tall Stephen Merchant is! That should be fun. And he’s so wonderful. It should be as good a show as it is when Gervais is on.

      Jon’s first two shows really are rockin’.

      I’m fascinated by King Peggy’s story, too. It sounds as if she’s doing a great job. At some point, she is going to move there–I expect after she retires.

      • Mr. Arkadin

        Peggielene Stephen Merchant?! I would be a good boy and take my vitamins everyday and pray to God every night if this really was his real name! 😀

        • karenatasha

          AAGGGH. Good lord, I’m so sure that wasn’t there. I’m so sure. I just fixed it (so no one else is going to understand what you’re talking about, Mr. Arkadin!), but I’m perplexed and confused.

          But I am getting an image of Peggielene and Stephen M. slowly becoming one person….

          • Mr. Arkadin

            Ha! Yeah, just wipe out all the evidence and deny everything.

            Have you ever thought of running for president as a republican?

            • karenatasha

              “Deny everything.” Were you an X-Files fan?

              And in answer to your question: no never! 😉
              You see, I can’t: I don’t know any NASCAR team owners, don’t own two Cadillacs, and didn’t want to the throw up over JFK’s “Pope” speech. Also, I don’t think the trees in Michigan are the right height. I’m sure they’re not. The trees in New Hampshire, however, are.

            • karenatasha

              And, anyway, I didn’t wipe out the evidence. My secretary did. Eighteen minutes got lost while he was trying to manipulate the tape recorder and eat a tuna sandwich at the same time. (And no, that is not EXACTLY the Watergate tape explanation, but it will do for right now.)

          • Mr. Arkadin

            “Were you an X-Files fan?” We are not allowed to get any X-flies on this website! Stop that! *Whispering* My favorite episode was “Home.”

            • karenatasha

              Really–“Home?” Interesting! They weren’t allowed to rerun that one. I actually liked it too, but it was a bit disgusting for some. My favorites are Darin Morgan’s: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

              I still insist, by the way, that that error occurred on its own. I really am mystified.

          • Mr. Arkadin

            “And, anyway, I didn’t wipe out the evidence. My secretary did. Eighteen minutes got lost while he was trying to manipulate the tape recorder and eat a tuna sandwich at the same time.”

            Thank God he wasn’t eating a Twinkie. Somebody could have been killed!

            • karenatasha

              Twinkies are evil.

          • Mr. Arkadin

            “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”
            Yes. I’m a big fan of both of those as well.
            But we are not allowed to talk about the X-files on this shiny, lovely Stephen Colbert website! Stop trying to corrupt and defile my innocent nature! You New York dandy! *Fan’s self to keep from passing out from the vapors*
            *Whispering* Did you ever watch Millennium?

            • karenatasha

              *Whispering back* Yes! #I’mACorrupter

            • Katt

              Please keep on topic. There are other more appropriate places to discuss “The X-Files”.

  • Caroline

    King Peggy sounds fascinating. Tip of the Hat to the TCR bookers for that one!

  • Karenatasha

    I think she will be great! Such a unique story.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    @colbaby “And seeing his 6’7″ frame next to Jon is going to be hilarious.”
    It’s good to see you’re back to your laughing at tiny men self.

    • colbaby

      For some reason reading this sent me into a fit of laughter which I realized afterward sounded a tad bit maniacal. Which, coupled with the sentiment you were expressing, makes me reiterate by previous comment: I am a terrible person.

  • Cosmo

    From @StephenAtHome: “Tonight is my 1,000th show! Beat that, “Time-Life Presents: Sounds of the ’60s” infomercial!” 😀 Hopefully he’ll do something on the show to celebrate, like a toss… *hint hint* I can’t wait for William Shatner. He should be fun.

    • Karenatasha

      His 1,000th show? This calls for a celebration! How wonderful.

      *Balloon drop* *Champagne* *Doritos* *Americone Dream*

      Wheat Thins?

      • Ann G

        Wheat Thins?

        Yes, but no more than 16, or the universe will implode.

        • Karenatasha

          LOL, Ann!

          I still think that’s one of the most brilliant things Stephen’s done.
          I wonder if there will EVER be another Wheat Thins ad on TCR again.

          • AgentNutmeg

            oh, they’re still running plenty of Wheat Thins ads on the website…

            • karenatasha

              Thanks for telling me! I haven’t been on the site in the past day or so–too crazy with work.

              I guess they know how bad it would look if they pulled everything suddenly.

              Remember Miracle Whip?

    • Karenatasha

      And thanks for letting us know, Cosmo!

      • Cosmo

        Welcome! :) *goes to eat Americone Dream*