Welcome to what probably will be the last week of shows before Thanksgiving break. And we know what the top story will be, don’t we—especially for Jon, whose interview with Paula Broadwell has gone viral and is being parsed everywhere for clues and double entendres. Making the rounds along with the clip: a photo of Stewart and Broadwell at a barbecue in North Carolina that she held in honor of vets and wounded warriors. The puns are already flying. I immediately commented that Petraeus surged where he wasn’t supposed to. Lizz Winstead, the original co-creator of The Daily Show, wondered if he’d used surge protection. The New York Post headline read: “Cloak and Shag Her.” Frankly, I’m waiting for more news (and witticisms) to break, because I don’t think this is it.
I’m feeling happy and relieved after the election, not just because of the presidency but also because of the number of women and minorities about to join the Senate. It was an election of many happy firsts, including the first Asian-American woman senator (she’s also the first Buddhist) and the first openly gay woman senator. I didn’t expect to find out so early that Obama had won; I’d steeled myself for an extremely late night–which it turned out to be only because Mitt took so darn long to concede. With the victory speech taking place in the wee hours of the morning, it became just a little harder for those of us who had to go to work the next day. What can I say? I guess that wasn’t Mitt’s problem. Following on the heels of the hurricane, it was all very draining for me.
This week’s guests includes a writer I admire and a politician I don’t. As our Hub-leader said to me, the studio may need to be fumigated on Tuesday.
Monday, 11/12: Ken Burns
Burns is back! After having interviewed Stephen just a little while ago at the 92nd Street Y, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns returns to the Report once again. And this time the prolific director (sometimes too prolific, in my opinion) has two documentaries ready to premiere. One, about the infamous Central Park jogger rape case, has already received a lot of attention because the now acquitted suspects are suing the city for wrongful arrest. (Many had actually completed their sentences by the time the truth came out.) The lawyers defending the city wanted Burns’s outtakes, but he refused. Unlike most of Burns’s documentaries (including the other new one), The Central Park Five will screen in theaters, though perhaps later PBS will air it. This means that Burns will be eligible for an Oscar® nomination, which would not be the case if it had premiered on TV. Incidentally, Burns is keeping this one all in the family: his daughter Sarah, who actually initiated the project while still a student at Yale University, co-directed.
Burn’s second documentary looks back in history at the Dust Bowl, the area of the American West that suffered terribly during the Great Depression. The PBS website describes the decimation of the Great Plains as “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” Many of you will probably know Steinbeck’s novel on the subject, The Grapes of Wrath, or the acclaimed film adaptation starring Henry Fonda. A lack of care for the land, a focus on single-crop growing (wheat, in particular), and extreme overuse resulted in fertile ground becoming barren, ultimately causing devastating dust storms. Poverty, hunger, and a mass migration resulted as starving people abandoned the land in hopes of finding something better, often in California. In his publicity for the documentary, Burns has emphasized the relevance of this history for today, in hopes that the government will act to prevent another environmental tragedy. The two-part film premieres on November 18th and continues the next night.
Burns, of course, is the much-honored director The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, and The National Parks, all of which aired on Public Television—which is now saved (along with Big Bird) thanks to the recent election. His documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge received an Academy Award® nomination, both Baseball and National Park won an Emmys®, and The Statue of Liberty earned an Emmy nomination.
The Huffington Post reviewed The Central Park Five.
Watch a video of Burns discussing the Central Park doc with the Hollywood Reporter.
Then watch him discuss The Dust Bowl.
The Washington Post wrote about the airing of The Dust Bowl, which will have a companion book.
Follow Burns on Twitter.
Like him on Facebook.
This is his fifth visit! He most recently appeared on TCR in September 2011 to discuss his documentary, Prohibition, and before that in 2010 to talk about Baseball. (Nice throw, Stephen!) There was also an “Exclusive Backstage with Ken Burns” documentary!
Watch his first appearance, back in 2005. Will Burns EVER make that doc on Stephen?
Tuesday, 11/13: Newt Gingrich
Oh, look what’s crawling out from under a rock: it’s Newt! Though he’s on the show to discuss his new book—Victory at Yorktown: A Novel, co-written William R. Forstchen and out this very day—it’s inevitable that he and Stephen will address the recent Republican debacle. Since Gingrich has already admitted he misjudged the nation (see below for my link to the Politico article), we might be spared any arrogant insistence that he’d have done better as a candidate. I certainly hope so.
In any case, Victory at Yorktown completes Gingrich’s Revolutionary War trilogy about the birth of America and George Washington’s army. This one takes place in 1781 as the French send troops to help the young United States win their freedom and the British General Cornwallis goes with his men to Yorktown to regroup. What will Washington do? Will he win the war? Inquiring minds . . . already know the answer.
Gingrich, a Georgia representative, former Speaker of the House, and serial wife-cheater, thought he’d ushered in a Republican golden age when his “Contract with America” led the party to a huge victory. Then his intransigence helped shut Congress down, ruining his reputation and costing him his seat. Since then, Newtie, who has his PhD in modern European history from Tulane, has taught the Joint War Fighting Course for Major Generals at Air University and is an honorary Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Professor at the National Defense University. He also owns several companies, runs many think tanks, and has written numerous books–some on contemporary politics, others on history, and still more that are fictional. (A few hecklers, like me, might suggest that there’s an overlap between his political analyses and his fiction, in that both aren’t true.)
Not only is Newt on his third marriage, he’s on his third religion: He started out Lutheran, went Southern Baptist, and now is a Catholic. Convenient—become Catholic after all your divorces have gone through.
Visit his website. (Awww—Callista has her own space there, too.)
TIME asked him 10 questions.
Just a week before the election, Newt insisted that Mitt would win by a landslide. In Politico, he explains why he was wrong. The interesting line: “ I think that the country was looking at a different set of things than we were looking at.” Yes—the nation didn’t care about fighting gay marriage, and abortion was not their number one concern when jobs were at stake. They didn’t want a culture war; they wanted a war against economic calamity.
Follow him on Twitter.
Like him on Facebook.
Newt, what did you really think? Just before the election, a “mistaken” e-mail went out to Gingrich supporters saying Obama would win!
And then we can watch Stephen mock Newt and his lobbying.
Go to his author page to check out his other books, including the earlier volumes in the George Washington trilogy.
PBS’s Frontline series has an episode on Gingrich.
Are you a fan of Newt? Here’s a place to hang out. (Thank you, I’ll stick to the pizza place or burger joint.)
He raised money for “Rape Republican” Todd Akin. Worse and worse and worse and worse.
Wednesday, 11/14: Tony Kushner
Ahh—it’s a relief to go from Gangrene-ich to playwright Tony Kushner, who himself has a big historical project premiering: he wrote the script for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the latest in a long list of movies about Honest Abe. (The one best-known and most written about is John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln.) This is a reunion of sorts for Kushner and Spielberg, who last joined forces for Munich, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. The reviews for Lincoln thus far are glowing, so it may well be this year’s Academy Award king, taking home Best Pic, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor. (Unless they’re just tired of giving it to Day-Lewis.) What critics find special about this film, which I haven’t yet had a chance to see, is its emphasis on Lincoln’s humanity. It doesn’t offer up starry-eyed admiration, but looks at the hard business of actually governing a troubled nation. If that is so, it will resonate today, when we have a House divided by politics and little stomach for compromise.
The New York-born (but Louisiana-raised) writer came from a highly creative and musical family: his father was a conductor and clarinetist, while his mother played bassoon professionally. Kushner became a household name with his Pulitzer Prize-winning epic theatrical two-part play, Angels in America, an exploration of the AIDS epidemic during the Reagan era. HBO turned it into a miniseries, and in 2010 it was given a theatrical revival. This week, the play celebrates its 20th anniversary. (Look here to see some images from that version.) Some of his other well-known works include Homebody/Kabul; the musical Caroline, or Change; and most recently, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. In addition to his Pulitzer, Kushner has won an Emmy, two Tonys, three Obies (for off-Broadway work), an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and many others.
He has an interesting thing in common with Stephen: Maurice Sendak! Kushner, who collaborated with Sendak on the Holocaust story, Brundibar, also wrote a book about his friend, The Art of Maurice Sendak. (You can read an excerpt here.)
Visit his website.
Would Abraham Lincoln have wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to portray him? The Examiner thinks so.
The LA Times called the film “a towering achievement.”
Read the New York Times review of Lincoln.
TIME had a Q&A with Kushner about the film.
Just last year, Kushner won $100,000 for his “creative citizenship,” sponsored by The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute.
PBS’s POV did a documentary of Kushner, called Wrestling with Angels. They followed the playwright for three years.
Could Angels in America make it onstage today? The LA Times wonders.
Kushner spoke with WNYC about An Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide, and more.
Read the lengthy and fascinating interview with Kushner in the Paris Review.
Thursday, 11/15: Chris Stringer
We end the week with science. Paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer’s new book, Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth, deals with an always-fascinating subject (to us, anyway): the origins of humankind. Stringer formerly posited that our species began in one particular and localized area in Africa, but now he’s suggesting that we developed across the continent—and that the various peoples who lived there were distinct from each other. (Hence the subtitle: Stringer believes that there used to be many types of humans, not just one.) This new theory comes from intensive examination of fossils, genome maps, and archeological discoveries. If his hypothesis proves correct, it would change conventional wisdom on how we evolved. And yes, I did use the the “e” word. I believe in science.
Stringer is the head of anthropology at the Natural History Museum in London, and if you follow that link to his biography and click on “professional roles” you’ll see that his awards go on and on and on. Just to name a very few, he’s won the Coke Medal from The Geological Society; is a Fellow of the Royal Society; received several awards for his book Homo Britannicus, which suggested that humans existed many millennia earlier than we once thought; was a Darwin Lecturer at the Centre for Ecology and Evolution; and organized countless conferences.
Read a review of Lone Survivors in the Guardian.
The New York Times had a conversation with Stringer.
Check out some of his guest visits to the Open University.
Look at a brief interview on his publisher’s author page.
Well, Stringer’s book Homo Britannicus was a study of early mankind—but to librarians at the University of Manchester, it was all gay!
Stringer presents his view of evolution.
And now, let’s check in with our good friend, Jon Stewart!
A CHANGE: The Daily Show site has removed the “rerun” banner from Monday’s and Tuesday’s guests. They are all-new shows. Yay.
Monday, 11/12: Mike Huckabee
Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee has a charming on-screen personality masks his toxic politics, and he’s a favorite with Jon. He has a new book, Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family and the Things that Matter Most, devoted solely to letters he’s written to his grandchildren.
Huckabee has been on the show seven times so far (tonight’s his eighth). Here’s a clip of his most recent appearance; the rest are available on Jon’s guest page.
Visit his website.
Follow him on Twitter.
He’s the first of two guests Jon’s hosting this week who have a FOX News show.
Tuesday, 11/13: Jason Sudeikis
Former SNL comedian Sudeikis began in Second City and has since starred in a number of comedies, including Horrible Bosses with Jennifer Aniston. His most recent, released in September 2011, was A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy.
Follow him on Twitter.
Like him on Facebook.
Watch Sudeikis on his last visit to The Daily Show.
Wednesday, 11/14: Jon Meacham
Meacham, a former editor of the soon-to-be-defunct Newsweek, won a Pulitzer Prize for his book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. (An excellent book, if you haven’t read it.) His newest also concerns a former president: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Meacham is now an executive editor at Random House.
Watch his last appearance on The Daily Show.
Visit his website.
He’s editor-at-large of PBS’s Need to Know.
Thursday, 11/15: Andrew Napolitano
The election’s over, but the pundits must pundit, and former judge Napolitano works for FOX News–so maybe he’ll have something to say about B#*#!$it Mountain’s hysterical mess up last Tuesday. His new book is Theodore and Woodrow: How two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. You can read the synopsis on the Thomas Nelson Publishers site I linked to, and if you have my perspective, you’ll find all kinds of reasons why Napolitano is just wrong on the Constitution.
Napolitano visited The Daily Show less than a year ago, in January. That’s too often for me.
That’s it for this week, folks! For everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving, have a wonderful turkey-or-whatever-you-eat day. For everyone else, have a great week. Enjoy the shows, and let me know who you’re most excited to see.