Better Know a Caroler: December 10 – 14, 2012

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpSing out, Hubsters!

(To the tune of “Joy to the World”)

Joy to Report, for next week’s shows!
Let fans receive his song.
Let every ear prepare to hear,
Let every ear prepare to hear.
For Stephen and guests will sing.
For Stephen and guests will sing.
Let STE-E-EPHEN and his guests sing!

Yes, Hubsters, we’re getting a week filled with music—and more. We Jews probably won’t be blessed enough to have Mr. Colbert rock a couple of verses of “Dreidel, Dreidel,” although there IS one guest who should probably pick something a little more Kosher. (Keep in mind, I realize that NO ONE can actually “rock” “Dreidel.”) But I’m no Scrooge, so no complaints here about what should be yet another extraordinary and special group of episodes. And not only has a schedule of visitors been posted, but the song each particular person/group of people will perform.

This should be the last week of shows prior to the holiday break–and it’s ending with a favorite of mine, a non-religious song composed by one of my idols.

Let’s get ready to CAROL!


Monday, 12/10: Diana Krall – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Diana KrallHave yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light.
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.
(Music composed by Hugh Martin, lyrics by Ralph Blane)

The renowned jazz pianist and singer (and Elvis Costello’s wife) comes to the Report with her soft style. Diana Krall has chosen a beautiful song that always makes me cry when I hear Judy Garland sing it to Margaret O’Brien in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis.

Krall, best known for her covers of standards, has a new album called Glad Rag Doll, featuring mostly honky-tonk tunes from the 1920s. It’s produced by the marvelous Grammy®, Golden Globe®, and Oscar® winner T-Bone Burnett, who has worked with everyone from Robert Plant and Alison Krause to Krall’s husband and Colbert friend Costello. (The two combined forces on a song for the film Cold Mountain, which received the Academy Award.) The musicians include the famous guitarist, Marc Ribot. Krall has said these songs are especially close to her heart, the ones she’s listened to and loved since childhood. (See the Vanity Fair interview below.)

The British Columbia native attended the Berklee College of Music on scholarship. After briefly living in LA and Toronto, Krall finally settled in New York, first working with others and then getting her own recording contract. In 1999, she won a Grammy for When I Look into Your Eyes, and her popularity began to soar. Krall has sung everything from Nat King Cole songs to Brazilian bossa nova (in Quiet Nights—a little too quiet for me, even for the already hushed bossa nova style). She first recorded “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in 1998 on the album of the same name.

Krall and Costello, who wed in 2003, have composed songs together—and are also the parents of twin boys. Now, perhaps Costello might make a cameo?

I always wish I could like Krall more than I do. She’s very talented, particularly as a pianist, but I simply don’t find her very exciting. As I said about her bossa nova, it’s just too low-key for me. She always looks beautifully golden by the piano lamplight, however.


Visit her iTunes page, where you can read a longer bio and also buy her music.

Read an interview with her in Vanity Fair. Little bit of trivia from this interview: she played at the tribute to Neil Armstrong. I think Stephen will appreciate that!

Here are several short articles about her on They cover an album she produced for La Streisand, the music her kids like (but that was three years ago), and more.

Rolling Stone had an article on, and a song from, the new album.

In 2009, she was on NPR.

The Guardian had a portrait of the artist.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Glad Rag Doll.

Krall appeared on Sesame Street!

Costello appears on the new album, and in the Daily Mail Krall talks about recording with him for the first time.

Follow her on Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.


Tuesday, 12/11:  Malcolm Gladwell, Audra McDonald – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Malcolm GladwellI really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go ‘way (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The evening has been (I’ve been hopin’ that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hand, they’re just like ice)

Music and more tonight! Malcolm Gladwell, originally scheduled for the end of October but unable to appear because the storm cancelled the show, will have his chance tonight. Here’s what I wrote back then:

But will there be a dog on set for Stephen to play with? Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell has a new anthology coming out the day after his appearance, The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs. Gladwell has gathered some of the best articles, stories, covers, photos, and cartoons from the magazine, where he has worked as a staff writer since 1996. The rather lavish collection includes such estimable names as John Cheever, Susan Orlean (who just had big hit with her book on Rin Tin Tin), Ogden Nash, Anne Sexton, and many more. New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnick contributed a new essay on Thurber, while Gladwell wrote the foreword.

Gladwell has had numerous successes in the past few years, including Outliers: The Story of Success, Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw. Before joining The New Yorker, he reported on business and science for the Washington Post. He won a National Magazine Award in 1999, like so many of Stephen’s guests (and Stephen himself) he once was one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, in 2005.

Audra McDonaldAlso stopping by: the lovely and talented Audra McDonald, to (I presume) duet with Stephen on the sexy little song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” She was a fairly recent guest, and here’s a clip of her discussing Porgy and Bess. Sadly, the duet of “Summertime” is no longer available on ColbertNation, but here’s a version she sang on The Rosie Show. As a refresher, I’m linking back to my BKAG post from that time. And, for something special, listen to her sing a medley of Sondheim songs and a version of the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me.”



Visit his website, which has links to his books, his blogs, and his articles.

Listen to his TED talk.

He recently wrote about the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. I have to say, I do not agree with him at all.  And….

Here’s an interesting link to an article that wants to “S. H. A. M. E.” Gladwell for his links to the tobacco industry, banking, and big pharma. If it’s true, maybe that’s why he doesn’t mind doping?

Like him on Facebook.

Follow him on Twitter.

The Guardian likes him, penning an article in praise.

The Register, however, definitely does not.

Like Stephen, he was on Henry Louis Gates’s Faces of America. (Although he’s really British.)

Listen to him on NPR.

He is a real friend of the show: this is his fifth visit—in one case exactly a year separated his appearances! His last one took place in November 2009  and the one before in November 2008.


Wednesday, 12/12: We 12/12: Mandy Patinkin, Michael Stipe – “Good King Wenceslas” 

Mandy PatinkinGood King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even.

Now, we have an interesting question on Wednesday: will Mandy sing? Or will it only be Stephen and REM’s Michael Stipe, potentially recorded a while back? I can only hope the former, because Mandy Patinkin has one of the most beautiful voices in theater, even though it is now being used only in President Obama’s favorite TV show, Homeland. Or, if he doesn’t chime in on “Good King Wenceslas” (he’s Jewish, after all), perhaps he and Stephen can duet on a Sondheim tune for a few minutes during the interview. Patinkin, of course, notably originated the lead role in Sunday in the Park with George, about the Seurat painting; he received a Tony® nomination for that performance. (In fact, the little snippet Stephen sang to Sondheim on his first visit came from that musical.) He has since gone on to do evening-length concerts of Sondheim’s material, sung in a recording of Follies, and appeared at many of the birthday/anniversary celebrations in that composer’s honor.

Patinkin, who graduated from Julliard, originally made his name in a show that was recently revived: as Che in Andrew Lloyd’s Weber’s Evita. (Ricky Martin took on the role, to not very great acclaim.) He won a Tony® for that performance, and went on to act in in everything from Shakespeare (The Tempest, Hamlet) to the musical version of The Secret Garden. In honor of his Jewish heritage, he did Mamaloshen, an evening of all-Yiddish songs. Of his films, perhaps the most beloved is The Princess Bride, a perennial favorite in which he played the swashbuckling Inigo. He was also in Yentl, but perhaps the less said about that, the better. I blame him not. Prior to Homeland, Patinkin’s TV work included Criminal Minds and Chicago Hope, for which he won an Emmy®. (The show famously had an all-musical episode, a stunt it pioneered, because if you had Patinkin in your cast, well, wouldn’t you do it too?)

Visit Mandy Patinkin’s website.

Visit Homeland’s website.

Although Patinkin has abruptly exited TV programs previously, he’s very happy with Homeland. (I love that he’s hoping to babysit for Claire Danes’ new baby once it’s born. Wouldn’t you want him singing you a lullabye?)

Oh, and that program he swiftly quit? It was Criminal Minds.

Read a New Yorker article on him.

Listen to him discuss Princess Bride (which just had its 25th anniversary) on NPR.

He loves Charlotte, NC, where Homeland shoots.

Patinkin and other Sondheim favorite Bernadette Peters reunited to sing “Move On” (from Sunday in the Park) at the composer’s birthday concert. She was his original costar in the play, and I would love to have Stephen invite this glorious performer to the Report.

This fansite has lots of clips.

He and Patti Lupone, his “Evita,” recently performed a series of concerts together. They discussed their collaboration in the New York Times.

In honor of Patinkin’s 60th birthday, put together this compilation of clips. Some are not good quality, but are all that exist.Michael Stipe of REM


For Michael Stipe, well, he’s become a funny kind of regular, but here he is with Stephen and Brian Eno, signing off with “Lean On Me.” He also appeared with REM, and here’s the interview–as is often the case, the musical segment can no longer be accessed.


Thursday, 12/13: Sister Simone Campbell, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Sean Lennon – “Happy x-Mas- War Is Over”

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.

War is over, if you want it.
(©John Lennon)

Sister Simone CampbellRadical feminist nun alert! The progressive Catholic in Stephen will happily welcome Sister Simone Campbell, the Executive Director of Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby.  This organization is dedicated to social ideals and economic justice—not curtailing the availability of birth control. Established in 1971 by a group of nuns just after Vatican II, its founders wanted to “go out in the world” to fight for equality. Sadly, under the current pope, most of Vatican II’s changes have been rolled back—including any progress for women in the church. I love the fact that the NETWORK website reveals that they got started by “passing a bag” and collecting a whopping $187. (That money meant more in 1971 than it does now, but not a whole lot more, if changing the world is your goal.)  Among the causes Network embraces: ending hunger, improving healthcare, curtailing nuclear weapons, and fighting for women’s rights. They even formed the “Nuns on the Bus” tour to combat spending cuts they felt would promote inequality. (Target: Paul Ryan.) The organization received the Presidential Citizens Medal from Bill Clinton.

Sister Simone has served as Network’s executive director since 2004. In addition to being a nun, she’s an attorney who works at the Community Law Center in Oakland, California, and a poet. Her writing skills have proven useful in letters arguing causes the group supports, including the Affordable Care Act aspect of Obamacare.

This is, of course, her second appearance on the Report. She wasn’t the toplining guest before.

Follow her on Twitter.

Sister Simone spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

Later, she discussed the reaction to her appearance.

Esquire followed her at the convention.

She called the GOP budget “immoral.”

Conservatives hate her.

John Lennon and Sean LennonIn addition to the Sister, a diverse group of guests come on to sing John Lennon’s classic “Happy Christmas/War Is Over.” Thirty-two years ago this past Saturday, Lennon was shot and killed in front of his apartment in New York City, so to me, this is a wonderful choice of music. It honors a genius, celebrates Christmas, and offers a heartfelt wish for peace. The singers will be Jeff Tweedy, a singer/songwriter from the band Wilco; famed gospel singer Mavis Staples, and Sean Lennon, John’s son with Yoko Ono and a musician in his own right.


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


Monday, 12/10: Gene Robinson

Stephen has a liberal Catholic nun; Jon has a liberal Episcopal bishop, back for a second visit. Gene Robinson is the Episcopal bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire. And he is openly gay. Robinson gave the invocation during President Obama’s first inauguration; I wonder if he’ll be doing so again. He wrote a book that came out just a few months ago, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage. This is timely, as the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear two cases related to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage legally as between one man and one women only.

Follow the Bishop on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Of course he contributed a video to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” website.


Tuesday, 12/11: Laura Linney

Award-winning actress Laura Linney stars in a new film opposite Bill Murray: Hyde Park on Hudson. It tells the story of an eventful weekend in Franklin Roosevelt’s life, as the King and Queen of England come to stay with him and Eleanor at Hyde Park. (This is the same King and Queen from The King’s Speech.) Personal affairs—literally affairs—are causing consternation for FDR, however. Linney plays his cousin, neighbor, and mistress, Daisy.

Her TV series The Big C, which earned her a Golden Globe as Best Actress, also will start its fourth season in the new year. Some of her best-known movies include The Truman Show, You Can Count on Me, Kinsey, and The Squid and the Whale. Like Patinkin, Linney graduated from the famed Julliard school.

This is her second appearance on The Daily Show.

The New York Times reviewed the film.

Also in the  Times, an article on Linney from two years ago.

Read an article on her in the LA Times.

Will her next film be about Wikileaks—starring with Benedict Cumberbatch and James McEvoy?


Wednesday, 12/12: Cory Booker

Booker was recently a guest on TCR, so you know about him. But since then, his city (along with much of New Jersey) suffered from Sandy.

Here’s a link to the earlier (but not THAT much earlier) BKAG info on the Newark mayor. It has all the websites you’ll need!


Thursday, 12/13: Kristin Stewart

Stewart meets Stewart—but why? The Twilight star doesn’t seem like the most interesting of guests and Twi-hards aren’t Jon’s typical audience. Well, I guess the  young actress—who made her debut alongside Jodie Foster in The Panic Room–is here to publicize her role in a rather un-Twilightish movie, namely the screen adaptation of Kerouac’s On the Road. As we know, Jon pretty recently had Stewart’s costar and boyfriend Robert Pattinson on, whom he comforted about the cheating scandal with Stewart; the two have recently kissed and made up. Funnily enough, her father is named John Stewart–spelled differently, but amusing anyway.

Here she is on Conan.

She’s just announced that she and Ben Affleck will costar in a romantic comedy.

Visit a fansite for Stewart.

Here’s the website for Breaking Dawn, Part II, the most recent and final Twilight movie.


Everyone, have a lovely holiday, whatever you celebrate (for Jews, hope you didn’t overdose on latkes!), and a very happy and joyful New Year. I will see you in January when the shows resume on the 7th. Until then, let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing this week.



  • Erika

    I’m glad you mentioned Judy Garland’s version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”! The first version of the song, in this case, was definitely the best. I also tear up when I hear it.

    This sounds like an AMAZING week!! I’ve always wanted to go caroling! Someday….

  • karenatasha

    That will always be the version I judge this song by! She is, of course, helped by the narrative and the O’Brien’s performance.

    Even if I could carol–which being Jewish, I wouldn’t–I’d never subject anyone to my singing voice!

  • lockhart43

    This is so cool!! A Hobbit-filled week, and now a music-filled week? Yes, please! Particularly excited for Mandy Patinkin. I just love him. Hoping Stephen mentions Sunday in the Park with George, too, cause a part of me would love to see Stephen geek about that a bit more, hehe.

    This week is going to be wonderful! Except for Kristen Stewart. That girl can’t act her way out of a paper bag, I wonder what she’ll be like when she has to act like a real person.

  • Jaime

    Oh my god, I am SO EXCITED. A whole Christmas themed musical week?? EEEEE.

  • somuch2kno

    @karenatasha – according to my cable guide, your speculation is on point. It lists Costello along with Krall as a guest on the show Monday. And I’ll be very interested to see how Cory Booker’s efforts at living on food stamps alone for the month are impacting him, as he’ll be just a few days shy of halfway through.

  • Erika


    Yes definitely. Also, It always bugs me when people change the lyrics to “hang a shining star upon the highest bow” instead of “until then, we’ll have to muddle through some how”. Don’t know why it does exactly, but it does. It might be because, that’s how I feel when I’m going through something particularly stressful or if I feel like I dont get to see my entire family together very often….until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

    I’m excited to see Cory Booker on TDS too. That food stamps experiment sounds very interesting.

  • karenatasha

    I have a feeling Kristen Stewart will probably be almost everyone’s low point. I hope she’ll turn out better than we’re expecting. I’m hoping for Mandy Patinkin to sing too–not just talk about Homeland. I have no doubt that Stephen will mention Sondheim and Sunday, so we should see some geeking out.

  • karenatasha

    YAY! So we’ll have Costello as well. The two of them don’t normally appear together (much less with Stephen), so this should be a treat.

    Doh–thanks for reminding me about the food stamps, which I did not mention. I think it should be fascinating. I wonder if it will end up being a bit like “Supersize Me,” where he’ll watch certain aspects of his health go down. A month can have a huge effect.

  • Mariana312

    This should be a great week! Just the other day I was reading that Vulture feature about Mandy Patinkin that you mentioned and wondered why he hadn’t been on the Report yet, especially given Stephen’s history with Sunday in the Park with George. Wish granted!

  • CN Helper

    This week is so many kinds of heaps of awesome, it is hard to contemplate. It’s going to be a great and Christmasy end to the Report’s year.

    I love love love Diana Krall. She was so awesome when she appeared on Spectacle, hubby Elvis Costello’s short lived television program. She can wail out swing tunes (and hammer ’em out on the piano as well) like nobody today. If she sings with Stephen it will be epic, sign for the mp3 NOW.

    I like how we have a lot of repeat guests (Audra McDonald! Malcolm Broadwell! Michael Stipe!) Just how wonderful and exciting. Have a great holiday viewing week e’erbody!

  • karenatasha

    That’s so strange! Maybe you have some special powers and WILLED it to happen! If so . . . I thank you!

  • karenatasha

    @CN Helper
    Yes, it seems almost as if Stephen wants the familiar and friendly as he gets ready to sign off for the year. I’d say he wants to end on a good note–literally!

    I never saw the “Spectacle” with Krall, though I watched several of the other ones and thought they were fabulous. I bet Jon and Stephen could have gotten together and enjoyed the Costello/Springsteen matchup!

    You have a great week, too!

  • Katt

    Great round-up Karen!! Looking forward to Mandy Patinkin and Laura Linney … Kristen Stewart, not so much. I do applaud ‘The Daily Show’s’ webmaster for being able to a find a picture of her smiling for her guest profile, such a rarity. Having just recently seen ‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2’ I am thankful she is promoting her new film ‘On the Road’ and not ‘Twilight’.

  • karenatasha

    Well, thank you so much, Katt! :-)

    Poor Kristen Stewart. I hope she doesn’t read these comments.
    Got to say, though, if she is a drag as Bella, Bella is actually a drag in the books. What a passive lump the character is. For real fun, I recommend the Buffy vs. Edward mashup video that someone put together. The Buffster rollls her eyes, sighs, and beats up Edward’s moony-eyed a**. The funniest thing.

    Patinkin should be a lot of fun with Stephen. He’s a pretty energetic, powerful personality and that will make for a great meeting. I like Linney, too.