Better Know a Guest: April 16th – 19th, 2012

Hello, Hubsters!

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpHappy tax week for all us Americans; we got an extra couple of days to file this year. Joy, joy. *Dripping sarcasm—what IS the government going to do with our hard-earned money?*

Stephen gave us some great shows last week, yes? Michelle Obama rocked it with her little “thought bubble performance” (“I’m not talking to YOU, Stephen”; “Have you thought of shaving your head?”) and Sergeant Brian Escovedo handled himself wonderfully; I think he has a good future as a political pundit. Plus the “tweets like Grassley” and “Lady Heroes” segments were fantastic.

Plus, Mr. “Google it” sanctimonious Santorum has dropped out of the race. I’m torn: I’m glad to know there’s no way he will become president, but sad that he’s no longer wreaking havoc with Romney’s campaign. And no longer providing comic fodder to Jon and Stephen. Well, maybe he’ll still do that; it depends on whether he keeps quiet for the duration of the election season or not. Well, we still have Newtsie.

Now I must share with you a story about…BEARS! Apparently, Vermont governor Peter Shumlin was chased by bears in his backyard–when he was in a state of undress. Read it here!  THREATDOWN!  I couldn’t help but think of Stephen. And doesn’t that photo look like something he would use, with the bear’s mouth open in a wide bellow? Since I like Shumlin, I’m glad the bears didn’t get him. I am, however, hoping against hope that this makes it into next week’s Report.

I’m still in mad freelance mode this week, so this post should I hope be short and sweet and to the point. Though once I get started…who knows?  And we do have some amazing-sounding shows coming up. I’m particularly excited for Monday. So let’s go!



Monday, 4/16: Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie RaittMonday is music day on The Colbert Report! It’s been a long seven years, but now she’s given us something to talk about: bluesy singer/ slide guitartist Bonnie Raitt finally has a new album. It’s called Slipstream, and she’s released it on her own label, Redwing Records. On this, her nineteenth recording, Raitt took a new producer, the acclaimed Joe Henry, who works with such musicians as Alvin Toussaint, and she welcomes guests like jazz guitarist Bill Frissell and covers songs by such composers as Bob Dylan and Loudon Wainwright III. I’m glad she’s back, because Raitt had so many sad events in her life that led to her recent hiatus: she lost both parents (her father was the beloved singer and actor John Raitt, who originated the leads in Broadway’s Carousel and The Pajama Game), her brother, and her best friend. I wish her much happiness now and healing, and joy in making music.

Raitt is a multiple Grammy® winner, as well as an inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. While blues was her staple, she’s also recorded pop and folk, including a version of the catchy little early-60s song “Runaway.” In 1989, had a breakthrough mainstream success with her album Nick of Time; her most popular song, “Something to Talk About,” came from the follow-up album, Luck of the Draw.

Visit Bonnie Raitt’s official website where you can also find tour dates and links to purchase Slipstream as well as other Raitt merchandise.

Are you a fan? Then, here’s a site for you!

There hadn’t been a new Bonnie Raitt video in FOURTEEN years…until now, with the reggae-inspired “All Down the Line.”

Like her on Facebook.

Follow her on Twitter.

The New York Times interviewed her about Slipstream. I love the info about her eco-consciousness!


Tuesday, 4/17: Jonah Lehrer

Jonah LehrerRemember when your parents or teachers scolded you for daydreaming? Well, now you can scold them right back! According to Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, daydreaming actually stimulates your creativity. So does the color blue, which he says can help you “double your creative output.” Not so good?  Brainstorming meetings. (Surprise!) I’m betting on this being one of the best interviews of the week; the topic has got to interest Stephen and he’s always great with science. And Lehrer avails himself of cutting-edge neuroscience to figure out how our brain operates in its quest to reach that “eureka!” moment. He also examines corporations known for fostering a creative atmosphere, such as Pixar, and the working habits of innovative artists like Bob Dylan.

Lehrer, a contributing editor at Wired who has frequently written for The New Yorker and Radiolab, earned his degree in neuroscience and French literature from Columbia University. He then won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied both philosophy and literature. Lehrer has appeared on TCR before, in 2009 when he discussed his bestselling book, How We Decide. His debut publication, also a bestseller, has the intriguing title Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and features a series of essays about such imaginative people as Cézanne, George Eliot, and the French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier.

Oh—and can I say how depressed it makes me that he’s done all this and is only 30 years old?

Visit Lehrer’s official website.

Read his blog at Wired.

Listen to him on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Follow him on Twitter.

Read an article on him in the Financial Times or a profile in the Guardian.


Wednesday, 4/18: John Cusack 

John CusackJohn Cusack has acting in the blood: not only was his father an actor (as well as a documentary filmmaker and political activist), but so are many of his siblings, including sister Joan. He began his film career in the mid-80s with roles in such movies as Better off Dead, The Sure Thing, and John Hughes’s very popular 16 Candles. As he gained fame, he took more of an indie route, appearing in the under-appreciated film noir, The Grifters; Say Anything; and Grosse Point Blank  —a dark comedy that he co-wrote about a conscience-stricken hit man who attends his high school reunion. (It features a really great soundtrack.) Another huge hit for him with a wonderful score was High Fidelity.

His newest film is The Raven, in which he plays the writer Edgar Allen Poe. (Nevermore!) The idea sounds fascinating: a lunatic stages his (or her) murders to mimic the plots of Poe’s stories—which are some of the creepiest, most horrific deaths ever imagined. In order to stop the killings, Poe joins the detective investigating the crimes to find the perpetrator.

The very intelligent Cusack has also taken to blogging on Huffington Post. covering such quite serious topics as the war on terror,

Watch The Raven trailer.

Read an interview with Cusack on the film in Huffington Post.

Watch him discuss his craft on Inside the Actors Studio.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Here’s a great fan site for Cusack.

Cusack has never been on The Colbert Report, but he did appear on The Daily Show nearly ten years ago.


Thursday, 4/19: Tavis Smiley & Cornel West

Tavis Smiley didn’t make his last appointment with Stephen; but now he’s scheduled again, and this time he’s bringing a little support: writer, public intellectual, and academic extraordinaire, Cornel West. The two have joined forces on a new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. It follows on the heels of their “Poverty Tour,” an 18-city bus journey designed to call attention to the 150 million poor Americans struggling to survive in our troubled economy. It’s published by Smiley’s own imprint, SmileyBooks, which is gathering a stellar roster of authors. The two also host a radio show, Smiley & West, that broadcasts on Public Radio International–and you can visit the Smiley & West website to learn more about their plans, their backgrounds, and their radio show.

Cornel WestFor Cornel West:

West graduated from Harvard and then went on to receive his MA and PhD in philosophy from Princeton, where he taught until last year at the Center for African American Studies. He remains an Emeritus Professor there, but decided to move to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, where he held his first position as an assistant professor. Unlike many academics, the lively and energetic West has managed to reach the public-at-large and help shape the wider political debate across the nation. Of the large and well-known body of books he has written, his most famous is the classic, critically acclaimed, bestselling Race Matters, which was updated with a new preface.

West has won the American Book Award; appeared in films, including two of The Matrix sequels; and is a regular guest on numerous TV shows, particularly Bill Maher’s Real Time. And as you know, he’s a “Friend of the Show,” having visited Stephen in 2011, 2009, and 2008.

Check out Cornel West’s profile on the aalbc site, the overall publisher connected with SmileyBooks. It contains a link to buy The Rich and the Rest of Us, as well as videos and additional biographical information.

Here’s his official website.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

He just appeared at the Auraria Social Justice Conference, where he apparently (as he often does) stole the show.

Uh-oh. Juan Williams is accusing Smiley and West of being “threatened” by Cain’s success. Because they’re not successful?

Listen to West discuss various political issues.

Here’s a slightly edited version of what I wrote on Smiley for his last unfulfilled visit:

Tavis SmileyTavis Smiley has his own eponymous talk show on PBS (and formerly on NPR, which he left in 2004). A bit like Charlie Rose, he tends to go one-on-one with his guests in close conversation. Smiley promotes it as “intelligent entertainment” because of his mix of serious people in the news and current events with lighter, sometimes celebrity-oriented fare. Smiley also potentially will go for the human interest story, speaking to someone without much fame who’s doing something interesting. Sounds like public television, yes?  He has won several  NAACP Image Awards for his show and is very involved in community activism—including The Tavis Smiley Foundation, formed to mentor at-risk and promising youth. The foundation does leadership training, encourages education, and has worked with corporations like Microsoft to provide low-income schools with much-needed technology. Among Smiley’s beliefs: that parents have to teach responsibility and not make excuses for their children—particularly young men.

Hailing from Gulfport, Mississippi, Smiley had a rather dramatic childhood himself: he was born to an 18-year-old single mother who later married a military man. After Smiley’s aunt was murdered, his mom and stepfather took in five nieces and nephews—this in addition to the eight biological children they had.  And when he attended college, his parents wouldn’t even fill out the financial aid papers; Smiley had to handle everything himself. And that is only part of his story, more fully told in an autobiography, What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. Let’s just say it includes protests against a friend’s killing, failed classes, and attempts to win political office. It also features some good-hearted people who reached out and lent a hand. So it seems clear that he has a first-hand understanding of his topic.

Tavis Smiley is currently on a tour,  “An Evening with Tavis Smiley: Changing the World One Conversation at a Time,” celebrating his 20th anniversary in broadcasting. He also has joined up with Friend of the Show Cornel West on a radio venture.

Visit Smiley’s official website, which covers his many recent activities..

He has complained that Obama is the first president not to invite him to the White House. (I assume since he’s become famous!)

Like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Listen to Tavis Smiley Radio.

TIME magazine asks him 10 questions.


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

The Daily Show site lists only three guests so far — Thursday’s is TBA. Stop holding out on us, Jon!


Monday, 4/16: Jane Goodall

I’m really excited to see primatologist and anthropologist Goodall, who has devoted more than three decades of her life to studying and trying to save chimpanzees. Her newest project is Chimpanzee, about an abandoned baby who succeeds in finding a new home. It’s another valiant effort to help people understand the importance of protecting our closest relatives in the wild. (Yes…I believe in evolution. Say it loud and proud!)

Watch the trailer. I can tell you that it definitely pulled at my heartstrings. And if you buy tickets opening week, a donation will go to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Visit her website.

Follow her on Twitter.

Buy her book, Hope for Animals and Their World.


Tuesday, 4/17: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

I can’t help it–brilliant as Julia Louis-Dreyfus is, she’ll always be Elaine Benes to me. The comedically sharp actress won a boatload of awards for that role, including a Golden Globe, Emmy, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five American Comedy Awards . Like Stephen, she attended Northwestern, and later made her way into Saturday Night Live, where she was miserable–but had her life-changing meeting with Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. She’s about to star in a new HBO show, VEEP, in which she plays a vice president–a true DC insider–trying to negotiate the political world. It begins next week.

Visit the VEEP website.

The New York Times published a big feature article on Louis-Dreyfus and the show this past Sunday. Great photos!

Follow her on  Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.

One of the most memorable Seinfeld scenes: Elaine dances!


Wednesday, 4/18: Robert Reich

It’s the economy stupid! That was one of the most famous lines to come out of the Bill Clinton campaign, and although Robert Reich didn’t utter it, he was the economist who helped design the administration’s financial plan. He was the Secretary of Labor for Clinton, and now he’s a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His newest book is Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and our Democracy, and How to Fix It, and it’s available only as an e-book.

He’s been on The Daily Show three times before, the latest in 2008.

Reich has visited Stephen, too!

Visit his website.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.


That’s it for this week! Let me know which guest you’re most eager to see!
Cheers, all.

  • CN Helper

    Definitely looking forward to Bonnie Raitt tonight. She was a little bit before my time, but is a bona fide musician, and the real deal. Of course John Cusack will be a fantastic guest- I suspect he and Stephen will find a lot in common. The real Stephen, I mean. “Stephen” will hate Cusack’s activist liberal self.

    Really, everyone is good this week. I hope Tavis Smiley makes it on this time, unless he is unseated by another blockbuster director. Does Spielberg have any movies coming out this week?

    • karenatasha

      I am, too! And since she’s still singing…she’s not before your time! 😉 (Though her dad was.)

      And nope–thank god, nothing from Spielberg. Two this past summer, so I bet that’s it for a few years.

      • susan209

        A late reply from me: her dad played “Curly” in the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” and he was a phenomenal singer!

        • Karenatasha

          Yes–“Oklahoma,” too! He had an amazing voice. Comes with the genes. The looks, too.

  • lockhart43

    Thursday’s interview is going to be awesome. Just awesome. Cornel West just makes me so happy every time I hear him speak.

    I’m excited about Tuesday’s interview as well; that sounds like it will prove to be a good one, as it’s right up my alley of interest. I feel like Lehrer is on the right track – I read a TIME article very recently that was along the same terms, about how much better it is for your creativity if you relax in bed and let your mind wander when you wake up in the morning rather than jump right up and start thinking of all of the things you have to accomplish. I’ve been trying to do that more, but sometimes that’s just not possible! Anyway, in TDS Land, I’m most excited about Robert Reich – I really liked him when he was on TCR.

    • karenatasha

      I agree about Tuesday. It’s the sort of guest that seems a lot lower-profile than some, and then ends up being awesome with Stephen. It’s got to be a subject that fascinates him, and Lehrer really does know his neuroscience.

    • anais0509

      As someone who sees herself as a “professional dreamer” (awake AND asleep), I’m also psyched for Tuesday’s/tonight’s interview. Granted…I’ll be watching it tomorrow morning when it’s up on the site (no TV), but I’m still excited!

      • karenatasha

        I just got home, so I’m going to have to watch the DVR’d version, or online, “tomorrow”–which really means later today at this point. Someone messaged me on Facebook urging me to turn it on right now, and I’m very intrigued…

  • Katt

    Wednesday’s guest has been changed to TBD on

    • karenatasha

      Uh-oh. I’m not going to change anything yet, just in case Cusack still does still turn up.

  • karenatasha

    Arianna Huffington, tonight’s fill-in guest, posted a photo of herself and her HuffPo crew in Stephen’s green room.!/ariannahuff/status/192749739874336768/photo/1