Well, I am back after being ill, although still slightly on the mend. Last week had some wonderful moments, didn’t it—especially Jack White. Any set of shows that gives me White and a Word can only be considered successful, in my humble opinion.
Our next four shows are bookended by two actresses, one with over 40 years experience and the other only in her twenties, yet running an entire HBO show. In between, we meet two less-famous yet no less influential persons attempting to fix what they see as problems in our political and social system. They have very different perspectives, but should both be fascinating.
And, oh: I will not address that unjust loss. We all know who should have won.
Can you say PEABODY? Can you say TIME 100? Some people get it, some people don’t. But we know the score, right Nation? Right!
And good luck to our very own Remy, who is probably even now trying to figure out Stephen’s clue and win a college visit from Mr. Colbert.
Now, to the guests…
Monday, 4/30: Diane Keaton
For years, she was Woody Allen’s muse, the off-kilter beauty with her own particular and memorable style. And no film showed off Diane Keaton more brilliantly than the wonderful Annie Hall, with its lovingly biographical overtones. (Her real name is, in fact, Diane Hall.) Both she and the movie won Oscars®, and her vintage, male-inspired suits turned her into a fashion icon. The California native had moved to New York to study at The Neighborhood Playhouse; won her first role in the seminal hippie musical, Hair; and shortly thereafter became involved with Allen, whose work, along with a notable role in The Godfather, turned her into a household name. With her career now in its fourth decade, Keaton can look back at a roster of films that includes Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Manhattan, Reds, Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, The First Wives Club, and Something’s Gotta Give, to name just a few. In addition to appearing on screen, she has also gone behind the camera to direct music videos, TV episodes, and even a few feature films.
In 2011, Keaton published her first book, Then Again, a kind of mingled autobiography and biography of her mother. She drew material from her mother’s diaries and letters – including entries about Diane herself – and the book received excellent reviews from The New York Times (which made it an Editor’s Choice), USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and Vogue.
Keaton’s newest film is Darling Companion, a comedy about a couple who hires a psychic to find their lost dog—all the more important to saving the relationship as the woman loves the pet more than her husband (Kevin Kline). It’s directed by Lawrence Kasdan (best known for The Big Chill), and it’s his first release in nine years.
Now, when asked what she finds sexy about a man, Keaton has said: “I find the same thing sexy in a man now as I always have — humor. I love it when they are funny. It’s to die for.” I think she and Stephen will get on just fine.
In addition to her acting, Keaton is very involved in design and interior decoration. She even has her own line in Bed, Bath & Beyond!
The New York Times has reviewed Darling Companion. Unfortunately, the review isn’t very favorable, which seems to be the general concensus.
Keaton was on The Daily Show just last year.
Last year, she signed a development deal with HBO.
Tuesday, 5/1: Carne Ross
Happy May Day, everyone! It’s a good day to talk about revolutions, and Carne Ross has some ideas (non-violent) to expound. In the recent Occupy movement, try as they might, reporters could not pinpoint a single go-to person, one leader running the show. (Just remember Stephen’s own interview with the two OWS protestors, and his desperate attempts to get them to tell him who was in charge.) According to Ross, author of the book The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century, this is the wave of the future.
In 2004, Ross, then a British diplomat who had secretly testified that he did not believe American reports that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” resigned in protest over his government’s decision to enter the Iraq War. He then founded Independent Diplomat, a non-profit advisory group, and uses his expertise to “advise marginalized countries and groups around the world.” (By the way, college students, as of now Independent Diplomat has internship opportunities for the coming summer in NYC. Just saying.) The New York Times has profiled Ross’s work and his emotions about his years in the British foreign service, which have left him riddled with guilt. He blogs on the Huffington Post, and here’s one post directly related to his views on leadership—and why he doesn’t like it.
Follow him on Twitter.
Listen to his TED talk.
Here’s his public page on Facebook for you to like.
Wednesday, 5/2: Jonathan Haidt
With all the problems our society currently faces, we need nothing more than a government of people who can work together. However, we have exactly the opposite: polarized politicians, furiously denouncing each other, and stooping low in order to sling mud. How can we stop this? How can we get our senators, congresspeople, governors, mayors, and state legislators to forget the infighting and think about US for a change? And how can we function as a democracy if no one will listen to the other? Jonathan Haidt, Professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia and visiting professor at NYU’s Stern Business School this semester (where he teaches ethics), examines the question in his newest book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Haidt, who wants to ”transcend the culture wars,” points the finger at our snap judgments and our tendency to assume that our intuition is correct while facts aren’t worth finding out. Ahhh—we are deep into “Stephen” territory here. After all, we know what Stephen thinks about “facts” vs. “the gut.” In fact, Haidt doesn’t totally disagree with Stephen; since it’s what we do, he’s wants to know how we can use this very human tendency to enhance, rather than stifle communications. Note: he does think liberals tend to have rather more mistaken views of conservatives than vice-versa.
The issue of morality has been Haidt’s area of study, in particular morality across cultures. While he began his research focusing on negative moral emotions, like shame, he now looks at the more affirmative feelings. He’s part of a movement called positive psychology which attempts to discover exactly what helps humans enjoy a happy life. For positive psychologists, it may not be worth trying to recover that memory of mom belittling you that left you with a lifetime lacking self-confidence; instead, they’ll focus on what you have to do moving forward to experience joy rather than dredging up the past. Haidt received his BA from Yale; earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and did post-doctoral work at the University of Chicago. He co-developed the research site YourMorals.Org. Go there if you want to take a survey and explore your own morality!
Visit his website.
Visit the book’s web page, which has all the links and information you need, from interviews with the author to reviews and videos. There are links to his blog posts, too.
Haidt spoke at TED on the moral roots of liberals vs. conservatives.
The New York Times reviewed The Righteous Mind.
Here’s another website Haidt is involved with, civilpolitics.com, where he offers suggestions on how to have, well…more civil politics!
Visit his UVA lab home page.
Thursday, 5/3: Lena Dunham
You must have heard about it, because even prior to its debut about three weeks ago, Lena Dunham’s Girls was the season’s most buzzed-about new show. Often called a response to Sex in The City, and airing on the same network (HBO), the Brooklyn-set Girls follows the after-college lives of four young 20-something women—in particular, Hannah Horvath, played by Dunham herself. Two years after graduation, Lena is still stuck in an unpaid internship. Now, her fed-up parents have finally cut her loose, with her mom in particular refusing to support her any longer. Whether or not you feel sympathy for Hannah will probably depend on your age and economic circumstances. Should mom and dad support this maybe, could-be “voice of her generation?” Or, does mom deserve, as she shouts in frustration, her “f*%$g house by the lake”?
What makes Dunham so amazing is that she is not just the star of the show: at only 26, she is its creator and writer, as well. (Judd Apatow is the executive producer.) It’s hard enough for any woman to become a show runner, but to do it at such a young age is almost unprecedented. Plus, as people never tire of mentioning, she is not conventionally beautiful; in particular, Dunham’s body is heavier than that of most contemporary starlets. Given that she has to take her clothes off in a number of scenes, she has definitely earned a reputation for being both brave and uncompromising.
Dunham comes by her artistic interests naturally: her mother, Laurie Simmons, is an artist and photographer and her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter. (Many of the actresses she’s chosen as her co-stars have similarly stellar family backgrounds, including Allison Williams, daughter of Jon’s man-crush and NBC newscaster Brian.) In 2010, Lena Dunham made her first splash with a film called Tiny Furniture, which won Best Narrative Feature at the South by Southwest festival. She made it while still a student at Oberlin.
I’ve seen the show and often find it clever, though the all-whiteness of it is rather bothersome. I’d hate to think that women of Lena’s/Hannah’s age never venture beyond their own race for friendship.
Read an article on her in Marie Claire.
Baba Wawa (that’s Barbara Walters to you) interviewed her!
The LA Review of Books discussed the show’s alleged “realism.” And here’s one from Huffington Post, this time extremely critical of the show’s lack of racial diversity. The New York Times examined that, too.
What’s Dunham reading? The New York Times finds out—in one of many, many articles recently published on her and the show. (See above.) Now, here’s an interesting thing: in this article, she reveals she has a tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull. Remember that Stephen read Ferdinand out loud to a group of children? Has someone told Lena Dunham?
Slate published many articles on the show. Here’s one. But if you’re on the site, you also may want to catch the “Boys watch Girls” columns and the female response.
And now let’s check in with our good friend, Jon!
Just a very brief check-in for now. I will try to add more links later. But if you’re eager to find out more right now, visit Jon’s excellent guest page.
Monday, 4/30: Zach Wahls
This University of Iowa student touched the Iowa state legislature–and all of America–with his testimony about his two mothers. The video of him expressing his heartfelt support of their relationship, and urging lawmakers to allow his mothers to marry, went viral. He now has a book out on the subject.
Listen to his wonderful speech.
Follow him on Twitter.
Tuesday 5/1: David Barton
On the other end of the spectrum is evangelical David Barton, who believes in America law and religion should be entwined. Barton has a book with a preface written by Glenn Beck. Need I say more? This is his second appearance on The Daily Show.
The organization he founded is called Wallbuilders and it promotes Christian values in America.
His book is The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. (Arch-conservatives hate Jefferson, because he wasn’t religious enough for them.)
Wednesday 5/2: Sen. Tom Coburn
Another conservative, this time the junior senator from Oklahoma. His interest is the national debt, and his book is called The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America.
Visit his senate website.
Follow him on Twitter.
Thursday 5/3: Peter Bergen
Journalist Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst. He has written extensively on the Middle East, and was the first reporter to interview Osama bin Laden for American television. He also has taught in both Harvard and Johns Hopkins. Bergen has appeared on The Daily Show twice before, and is new book is called Manhant: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden.
Visit his website.
Watch his most recent appearance on The Daily Show, a year ago.
Happy viewing everyone! Let me know which guest you’re most looking forward to.