Better Know a Guest: June 25 – 28, 2012

Hello, Hubsters!

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpAnd the question for this week is: will Stephen gain control of the Swedish Twitter feed? COME ON, Sweden–take a chance on him! And be warned that if you don’t let him, he’ll take his nation elsewhere and the number of people following you will simply plunge. So consider your decision very carefully.

Last week I wondered whether Stephen and staff could keep up the pace and the amazing quality of his recent shows. The answer appears to be, yes he can. Every episode has been brilliant. And Stephen becoming an infant AND singing and dancing to ABBA all in one evening? What a joy. He’s simply such a fine physical comedian, and I don’t think that gets commented on enough because….well, he’s a genius wordsmith (with help from writers).

Now to this week’s guests. Three out of the four are writers–sports reporter, novelist, and screenwriter. That may be a first, though I’m not sure. Thoughts on that, anyone?


Monday, 6/25: Frank Deford

Frank DefordTime for some sports! Frank Deford, a Sports Illustrated reporter since 1962, has a lot to say about the field, and he’s done it in a new book, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter. Now, we know how often I say that I wish Jon’s guests could be on the ReporT, but this is a topic Jon (former soccer player, Mets enthusiast) is probably more passionate about than Stephen. But I’m still expecting a fantastic interview, because Deford sounds like a reporter from the old school—sharp, witty, wise with words. He’s also a regular on both NPR’s “Morning Edition” and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, has written 10 novels, and won some Emmys®. In addition, he’s garnered a host of honors, including (but not limited to) the National Magazine Award; inclusion in the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters; and six wins as US Sportswriter of the Year.

Among many topics, the memoir looks back at Sport Illustrated during the 1960’s (when Deford began as a baseball researcher); at the NBA before it became the huge and popular franchise it now is; at a trip he took with famed tennis player Arthur Ashe to South Africa during the days of apartheid; and at the many major sports figures he has become friends with through the years.

In addition to his work as a sportswriter, Deford also served for 17 years as the chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and remains chairman emeritus. His daughter Alex had the disease; tragically, she died when only eight years old.

Visit his website, where he mentions his TCR appearance; “Frank will try not to look too foolish as STEPHEN COLBERT toys with him discussing OVER TIME.”  It also provides info on Deford’s other books.

The New York Times reviewed the book, not too positively, I’m afraid. Or read the LA Times review.

Deford appeared on CBS News.

NPR, one of his homes, also covered the book.

The Seattle Times spoke with Deford.

Read some of his Sports Illustrated writing here.

Watch him on Tavis Smiley.

Like him on Facebook.


Tuesday, 6/26: Richard Ford

Richard Ford“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” I’ve heard amazing things about Richard Ford’s new novel, Canada, which Andre Dubus praised to the skies in The New York Times, calling it “extraordinary.” That seems to be the general consensus, and the line I quoted at the start of this paragraph–which is the very first in the book–has already been much commented on by critics. Narrated by 15-year-old Dell Parsons, it examines the shattering effect of his parents’ poor decisions on his, and his twin brother’s, lives. I already made plans to read this book just as soon as I’m done with the two that now top my list. (Which, by the way, are Swamplandia!, which I’m reading now and love, and The Night Circus.)

Ford grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and received his BA in English from Michigan State University. A stint as a teacher and later with the Marines followed, but he was discharged after contracting hepatitis. He decided enroll in the writing program at the University of California, Irvine, where, among others, E.L. Doctorow taught. In 1970, Ford earned his MFA, and in 1976 his first novel, A Piece of My Heart, was published. Ford also taught writing, both at Princeton and at Williams College, and has continued to do so  throughout his career, including in Dublin’s famed Trinity College.

Now, here’s the interesting thing: Ford, who did some sport writing as well, wanted to work for Sports Illustrated but didn’t get hired! Maybe if he’s still interested he should contact Stephen in advance to ask Frank Deford to put in a good word for him? In any case, Ford used his experiences (one imagines) to in his 1986 novel The Sportswriter, a tale about an failed novelist turned sportswriter—although it inverts his life by having a protagonist who succeeds in journalism but not fiction. Ford himself clearly succeeded wonderfully: he won both the 1996 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer for his book Independence Day.

Read some more biographical information on Ford here, plus some reviews.

KCRW radio’s Bookworm program had an interview with Ford.

The LA Times reviewed the book.

Read an interview in the Paris Review.

This review of Canada also discusses some of Ford’s other novels.

Here’s a little “diary” he wrote for the Financial Times during his Canada book tour. It reveals some of his political opinions.


Wednesday, 6/27: Melinda Gates

Melinda GatesMelinda Gates, wife of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and head of the Bill and Melinda Gates charitable Foundation, is back. I very much liked her during her first visit, when she discussed how to improve our public schools, and as you might remember, she and Stephen formed their own foundation on Donor’s Choose. What will she discuss this time? I can’t be sure, but her last few tweets (as I write this) involve women’s rights throughout the world, a topic that has recently become an especially pressing issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again and so is in the news. But Gates could also update us on education or discuss immunizations and disease prevention, both huge projects for the B&MG Foundation. I’d be happy with any one of those subjects, and they’re all featured on the Foundation’s website.

As you may remember, Gates has her MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and used to work directly for Microsoft, where she helped develop numerous products. (Her BA was in computer science and economics, also from Duke.) She and her husband have both been TIME People of the Year and recipients of several awards for their extensive charitable work—including honorary degrees from Cambridge University, which benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars given to the school to bring in scholars from outside England. She herself has been one of the Forbes’ 100 most powerful women several times.

Visit the Foundation website.

The Guardian wrote an article about her and the difference she can make in someone’s life.

At the TED conference, she weighed in on the birth control controversy, which could come up in her discussion with Stephen.

Her kids may be wealthy—but no iPods or pads for them! (Of course, Microsoft has a new tablet that has just debuted to rave reviews, so they’ll probably get that.)

An interesting article on a new venture by the Foundation that this Boston Herald writer considers ill-advised. What do you think? Should we try to gauge students’ interests through cutting-edge technology?

Like her on Facebook.

Thursday, 6/28: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron SorkinFirst Martin Sheen, and now the man who gave Sheen one of his most beloved roles. Tonight’s guest is Aaron Sorkin, creator and writer of the multi-Emmy-winning The West Wing and winner of a scriptwriting Oscar® for The Social Network. (He discussed the movie on his last visit to TCR, along with his BA in musical theater.) Sorkin’s many other films and TV shows include A Few Good Men (You can’t handle the truth!), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (the “other” SNL-inspired  series), Charlie Wilson’s War, and Moneyball.

Now he has a new HBO series, The Newsroom, about an anchor (the wonderful Jeff Daniels) who creates waves when he blows up during a Q&A and blurts out why he doesn’t think America is the greatest country in the world. In fact, what the anchor wants is to do real, substantive reporting—not too possible on television anymore. Is this not grist for Stephen’s mill? A show that suggests America is not the best and that purports to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and selling of network news? Well, it’s just perfect for our favorite faux-pundit. I am expecting pure delight.

In addition to his awards for West Wing and Social Network, Sorkin has won a Writer’s Guild Award, Golden Globes, the Humanitas Prize, the Critics Choice, the BAFTA, and numerous Film Critics Association awards from various cities.

By the way, though most of us think of him as a liberal; Sorkin denies it. WARNING: this is a super-conservative site out to reveal “liberal media bias.” But they do have a clip and he did deny being associated with liberal politics, so… I’ll go with it.

Read a review of The Newsroom from the Chicago Tribune.

See a trailer for The Newsroom. (Or did you see it on Sunday? I have to catch up.)

The New York Daily News had an article about the preparation of the new show.

Not all the advance word on The Newsroom is positive, the Guardian reports. It is true that Sorkin can be somewhat didactic and wordy.

Here’s what USA Today had to say.

The New York Times had an interview with Sorkin.

Sorkin’s written many articles for the Huffington Post.

JUST ADDED: A new article on Sorkin in Slate, reviewing his body of work.


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


Monday, June 25th: Marco Rubio
He’s back! It looks as if he will turn up tonight. Florida Senator Marco is one the Republicans’ hot prospects. They’d love him to accept a VP nomination from Romney (Florida being such a crucial state), and now it looks as if he might consider it. (Although he formerly said he wouldn’t.) Rubio has authored a memoir, An American Son, which he presumably is here to discuss.

Visit his Senate website.

Follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 26th: Seth MacFarlane
The animator and Family Guy is now voicing a snarky Teddy bear in the new film, Ted, co-starring Mark Wahlberg.

Watch Family Guy.

MacFarlane was interviewed by the New York Times.


Wednesday, June 27th: Andrew Garfield
The actor is the new face of Spider-Man on screen (along with last week’s guest, Denis Leary) and currently starring in Arthur Miller’s classic play, Death of a Salesman, on Broadway.

Garfield was interviewed by the BBC.

Like him on Facebook.


Thursday, June 28th: Tenacious D
This rock band stars Jack Black and Kyle Gass, and they have a new album out, Rize of the Fenix. They’re also “Funny or Die” website stars.

Visit their website to watch videos, check out their tour dates, buy merchandise,and watch interviews.

This is their third visit to TDS. Here’s the clip from their appearance in 2006.

Watch the video for the song, “Rize of the Fenix”

That’s all for now! Let me know who you are most looking forward to seeing.


  • CN Helper

    Richard Ford’s book sounds very intriguing, something worthy of picking up, so I am looking forward to him. It’s great also that Melinda Gates is coming back on, she was a fine guest on her visit, so I am hoping this means she will be coming back from time to time with her various initiatives – there aren’t many people like her on the planet! And Aaron Sorkin, c’mon, he’s amazing.

    • karenatasha

      I think it’s a great week, too, CN! I’m with you on hoping that Melinda Gates either announces a new initiative or, perhaps, updates us on the old one–which should create more interest. I do have to say, though, that there aren’t many people like her on the planet because they’d have to have her money to do it! Almost no one does–but then, even the super-rich rarely are as philanthropic as she.

  • lockhart43

    Melinda Gates and Aaron Sorkin are the ones that I can’t wait for, though Richard Ford’s book sounds really, really good. I don’t even care what Melinda Gates and Stephen discuss; I’ll love the interview no matter what they talk about, haha. And Aaron Sorkin! I am SO excited for his new show, “The Newsroom,” one because it’s Aaron Sorkin doing a behind-the-scenes of news (like “Sports Night,” which you all know is one my old faves), and two because it has Jeff Daniels in it. I was so ready for the premiere last night and then went and forgot to watch it. Thank heavens for DVR! I’m looking forward to watching it tonight when I get home.

    • Karenatasha

      I didn’t get to see “The Newsroom” last night, either, as I was out. But it is DVR’d. I’ll be interested to see how it is. I too think Jeff Daniels is great, as are many of the other actors in the show.

      Melinda Gates is great and I don’t believe that Bill G. would have embarked on his philanthropic work without her encouragement. I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it. She’s a smart woman, and handles Stephen well.

    • karenatasha

      By the way, I just added another last-minute article on Sorkin that I found.