Welcome to a new week of fun, politics, gossip, style, science, and satire. That’s what I’m hoping for given the guest list, which includes a TV executive who has just written a new book, a professor who analyzes racial issues in contemporary America, a fashion magazine editor, and one of the nation’s top geneticists.
Last week’s shows delighted me with some wonderful WORDs, and also kicked up a storm of controversy with Diane Keaton’s appearance. Frankly, I found her funny, and I highly doubt–as some speculated–that she was either drunk or high. I assume, like many guests before her, she decided on her strategy for handling Stephen beforehand. That always has mixed results. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t, but Stephen seemed to enjoy himself and so did I.
Meanwhile, congrats to Evie Colbert on her major role in helping to make Montclair’s first film festival season a success. Most everything sold out, and the festival had more events than originally planned. Good work!
Now, to the guests….
Monday, 5/7: Andy Cohen
Are you a Real Housewives of wherever fan? If so, Andy Cohen, executive vice president of original programming and development at Bravo TV, is the man who started this super-successful franchise, as well as the network’s roster of reality shows, past and present, including Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Project Runway (before it moved), Top Chef, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and The Rachel Zoe Project. He’s also the author of a new book called Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture. This dishy, fun read reveals his childhood obsession with TV, particularly soaps, which he asked his mom to tape when he was away. (One of his first interviews was with Susan Lucci for his college paper. You can read an excerpt about that meeting here.) Cohen also discusses his gayness, which he recognized even as a boy but hid until college.
In addition to serving as programming executive, he hosts a talk show called Watch What Happens: Live, where he actually got Rachel Maddow to discuss Keith Olbermann. Prior to joining Bravo he spent a decade at CBS News working on such programs as 48 Hours and CBS This Morning. He received his BA in broadcast journalism from Boston University.
Visit his website.
Read Andy’s blog.
Follow him on Twitter.
Like Most Talkative on Facebook.
SNL made fun of him.
Tuesday, 5/8: Michelle Alexander
Living in an era when a black man is president, you might hope that we’re moving forward into an era when, as Stephen’s character puts it, we “don’t see color.” Sadly, we haven’t, and that’s the subject of Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. (The Jim Crow laws, for those who don’t remember, were used to enforce segregation.) Alexander focuses on the fact that while racial prejudice is frowned upon in our society, prejudice against convicted criminals is accepted, even legalized—and with African Americans jailed in such unduly high numbers, this effectively amounts to a form of racial discrimination in which many black men cannot vote or easily find housing. One of the reasons for the high rate of incarceration is our draconian war on drugs, which often takes a higher toll among the poor. The New Jim Crow has already amassed numerous honors, including the NAACP Image Award, the Constitutional Commentary Award, a silver medal from the Independent Publishers Association, and others. In 2005, Alexander won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which facilitated her writing. Published in January 2012, The New Jim Crow has since become a bestseller.
Alexander graduated from Stanford Law School, where she was formerly an associate professor and director of the Civil Right Clinic. She’d previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun as well as for DC circuit Chief Judge Abner Mikva. An acclaimed civil rights lawyer, she has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC. Alexander currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.
Visit the book’s website.
Here’s Alexander’s page at the Moritz College of Law.
Read an article in which Alexander discusses the problem. The statistic she gives is horrifying: there are more black men in prison now than were enslaved in 1850.
Alexander blogs for Huffington Post occasionally.
Watch a YouTube video of her discussing the drug problem and its effect on the black community.
Like her on Facebook.
Hear her on NPR.
The New York Times discusses the issue and her book.
Wednesday, 5/9: Anna Wintour
What will you wear in the coming season? Anna Wintour will probably play a large role in determining what garments are chic and available in stores—although her own signature style, consisting of a bob, big sunglasses, and (usually) dark stockings and a pencil skirt, hasn’t really changed that much over the years. She’s the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine and widely considered the most powerful woman in fashion. The British-born magazine mogul began as a junior fashion editor in 1970, and has since headed Savvy and New York Magazine. Of course, she’s immortalized as the boss from hell in the bestselling novel and film The Devil Wears Prada; in the latter, she had the luck of being played by Meryl Streep, who made the character far more sympathetic and human on the screen than she ever had been on the page. Wintour also appeared as herself in the documentary The September Issue: Anna Wintour and the Making of Vogue.
She is notably the co-chair of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Gala Ball, honoring fashion greats, which takes place just two days before her TCR appearance. The event will be tweeted for the first time.
Read an interview with her in Forbes (which put her on their list of the 100 most powerful women).
Watch Barbara Walters interview Wintour.
She was interviewed for 60 Minutes, too.
In 2011, Vogue.com won a webby. Here’s Wintour’s acceptance speech.
Allegedly, she’s going to write her memoir.
Follow her on Twitter.
She can edit a magazine—but can she master revolving doors? Apparently not!
Thursday, 5/10: Dr. Francis Collins
Thought for food? Dr. Francis Collins has some. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, is one of the experts who contributed to a new HBO show about America’s weighty crisis—namely the epidemic of obesity that will likely lead to a medical catastrophe as people fall prey to such diseases as diabetes. The Weight of the Nation, a four-part documentary, begins airing on May 14th and 15th, and it’s part of a larger campaign to get people to commit to healthier lifestyles. On the show’s website, there are pledges to sign, links to a Facebook page for discussions, ways to host a screening, and lots more. The show will likely answer questions about some of the factors affecting weight gain, including stress, metabolism, and the reasons we find it so hard to ditch the junk food even though we know how much it harms us.
Collins specializes in genetics, and previously wrote The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, which tackled some of the hardest issues anyone could face. Imagine, for example, that your mother and her mother both died of breast cancer—and a DNA test revealed that you have a genetic mutation that means you have a nearly 80% of getting cancer too. What would you do to prevent it? And how would it affect your ability to obtain medical insurance? These are just a few of the questions raised by the brave new world of genetic testing.
Home-schooled until the sixth grade, Dr. Collins later attended the University of Viriginia, where he received his BA in chemistry; Yale, where he earned his PhD in physical chemistry; and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he got his MD. After teaching at the University of Michigan, and specifically trying to identify the gene behind cystic fibrosis, he moved on to become the director of the National Center for Human Genome Research. Since 2009 he has headed the NIH.
Visit his website at the NIH.
Here’s an interview with him on PBS about doctors “playing god.”
Follow him on Twitter.
Like his page on Facebook.
Collins previously appeared on The Colbert Report in 2006.
Science and religion mix for Collins, who has written a book on his Christian beliefs, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
Read this article on The Weight of a Nation.
The documentary features an accompanying book.
And now, let’s check in with our good friend, Jon Stewart!
Monday, 5/7: Admiral General Aladeen
Meet the supreme leader of Wadiya—a man with a whopping 118 PhDs! Of course, the Admiral General is really the newest character dreamt up by the chameleon-like Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Ali G, Borat, and Brüno. Aladeen is the lead protagonist in The Dictator, Cohen’s soon-to-be-released film (on the 16th). Cohen, who recently gave a marvelous performance in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, has other less satirical roles on his plate, including Monsieur Thénardier in the currently filming Les Miserables, based on the hit musical. This is going to be fun… even if I wish Stephen were the one welcoming the Wadiyan dictator.
Find out some more about the Supreme Leader!
Watch some trailers for the film.
Follow the General on Twitter.
Like him on Facebook.
The Republic of Wadiya has a website!
Let’s take a look back at Ali G interviewing an FBI agent.
Tuesday, 5/8: Ambassador Ivo Daalder
Ivo Daalder is the ambassador to NATO. He has written several books, the most recent being In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents They Served—from JFK to George W. Bush (co-authored with I.M. Destler). Daalder is also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
You can find all his books and buy them here.
Follow him on Twitter.
Visit his page on the Department of State website.
Wednesday, 5/9: Dr. John R. Hall
Dr. Hall officiated at what was the highest-profile wedding in recent years: the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He’s the dean of England’s famed Westminster Abbey and a trustee of the King James Bible trust. Deeply involved in education, he also chairs the Westminster Abbey Choir School and Westminster School. His new book is Queen Elizabeth II and Her Church: Royal Service at Westminster Abbey.
Visit the Westminster Abbey website.
The New York Times wrote about him, post-wedding ceremony.
You can subscribe to a podcast from the Abbey.
Thursday, 5/10: Robert Caro
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro’s books include The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, and most recently an acclaimed multi-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. The fourth entry, The Passage of Power, covers only five years, from his becoming vice president to his inauguration after Kennedy’s assassination—and Johnson’s amazing success passing landmark civil rights and anti-poverty legislation. Fun fact: this volume took longer to write than the numbers of years it covers.
President Clinton just reviewed the book in The New York Times.
Visit Caro’s website.
Like him on Facebook.
Caro speaks about what LBJ could teach Washington today. I suspect, lots and lots.
That’s it for this week! Be sure to let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing. Enjoy the shows!