Better Know a Guest: January 21-24, 2013

The Colbert Report Guest Line Up Welcome to Better Know a Guest, your weekly guide to the wonderful and diverse array of personalities appearing on ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘The Daily Show’ each week.


Hello, Hubsters!

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Let’s celebrate a dream of peace and equality, when people will be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

Here’s hoping we have a show Monday and that it’s not cancelled because of a sick Stephen. (Obviously my concern is the host, not the show.)  If he’s well enough to tape, what might he cover? Of course, there’s his sister’s announced run for the House. He must give her the Colbert bump! As a Democrat in a Republican county, she’s going to need all the help she can get. Best of luck to Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, and here’s hoping she wins. South Carolina could only be the better for having a Colbert in the House.

And following The Colbert Report’s presentation of “Breaking Downton,” should come: “Breaking Vatican.” You see, a Monsignor from Connecticut has been caught selling meth and laundering money. And that’s not all. Cross-dressing! A sex shop! Read all about it! It’s definitely Colbert territory. I mean,  the Monsignor even likes show tunes.

Of course, we can’t forget the Inauguration, the deadly results on “gun appreciation day,” and well . . . lots more. It should be a good week—if our fearless and determined host can make it through.

Let’s welcome the guests now…


Monday, 1/21: Ta-Nehisi Coates

We all know that journalism—and especially magazine publishing—has undergone seismic changes, thanks to the Internet, free content, and 24-hour TV news programming that provides instant access to the latest information. What will survive at the end of the day? Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor of The Atlantic, will discuss the future of media in the digital age. Coates, who covers popular culture and blogs for the magazine, writes on everything from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to Lena Dunham. (Just to name two of his most recent subjects.)

In 2008, the Baltimore-born Coates wrote a book, The Beautiful Struggle, about his childhood, and specifically about his relationship with his father—a Vietnam vet, Black Panther, and publisher of books about African history. In addition to The Atlantic, he’s worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and TIME, and contributed articles to the New York Times, Washington Post, and other major journals. Coates was the Alfred Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and is currently the Martin Luther King Visiting Scholar in Writing at MIT. So he’s the perfect guest for this holiday.

Follow him on Twitter.

Visit Coates’s blog on the magazine’s website.

Read his thoughts about living with guns.

Read his blog.

Ask him anything: that’s what readers did on The Daily Beast, and Coates answered their questions.

He likes Girls.

During the past election, Thomas Jefferson and his legacy was a matter of contention for the right wing. Coates had something to say about that, using a letter written by a slave. And you can read this to see exactly what he was responding to.

He spoke about his book on NPR.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes and Coates engaged in a conversation.

What was the worst thing he ever did as a father? Ta-Nehisi Coates unpacks the myth of meritocracy.

The magazine he works for had a big controversy recently when they posted an ad for Scientology that looked like an actual article, full of praise. There was a disclaimer, but the design was misleading and The Atlantic ultimately had to pull it.


Tuesday, 1/22: Kathryn Bigelow

She should show up this time! Actually Kathryn Bigelow really did have a good excuse for cancelling, as she received a major critics award that night.

The first woman to win an Oscar® for Best Director is now back with a new film—and rumored to be a top contender once again. In 2009, her movie The Hurt Locker, about the Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad in the Iraq War, received six Academy Awards, along with a passel of other honors. Her newest work, Zero Dark Thirty, offers a semi-fictionalized look at the killing of Osama bin Laden and it has already earned her the National Board of Review Award for Best Director as well as four Golden Globe® nominations. The film stars Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent (based on a real woman) who leads the hunt for America’s most wanted terrorist. Some have praised it for its power and intensity; others have criticized it for what they see as its tacit endorsement of torture.

Bigelow has carved a successful career making movies that do not qualify as “women’s pictures.” Almost all fit into the so-called male genre of action, adventure, and thriller, including Near Dark, a vampire chiller; Blue Steel, about a young female cop (Jamie Lee Curtis); Point Break, a surfer flick starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves; Strange Days, about a conspiracy in the LAPD; and K-9 The Widowmaker, which imagines a disastrous maiden voyage for a Soviet nuclear submarine. She also directed episodes for a variety of TV shows, such as Homicide: Life on the Street and the short-lived Karen Sisko, Prior to making movies, Bigelow studied painting, and even won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum of Art’s Independent Study Program. If we must deal with personal matters, which she apparently hates (see the New York Times article, below), the most renowned relationship she had was her marriage to James Cameron of Titanic fame. When she won Best Director for Hurt Locker, he was also nominated, for the 3D Avatar—and she defeated him.

This is her second appearance on the Report.

Visit her IMDB page.

Bigelow spoke to the New York Times about Zero Dark Thirty.

The New Yorker discussed the controversy over Bigelow’s depiction of torture. It’s pretty damning: Jane Meyer states that “the director of ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Kathryn Bigelow, milks the U.S. torture program for drama while sidestepping the political and ethical debate that it provoked.”

The Guardian also examined the film and its use of torture.

Follow her on Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.

TIME looked at the film.

The LA Times analyzed Zero Dark Thirty. One of the commenters in the article, Robert Burgoyne, is a friend and former fellow graduate student.


Wednesday, 1/23: Sally Field

Do you like her? Right now, do you like her? Okay—I guess by now Sally Field should get a pass over that giddily heartfelt exclamation, made as she picked up her second Oscar®.  Having begun her career as the perky TV Gidget and The Flying Nun (please question her about that, Stephen, please, please!), Field has now become an admired and sought-after actress. Her current film, of course, is Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed Lincoln,  which likely will pick up a few statues on Academy Awards night. She plays Mary Todd Lincoln, the troubled and mentally unstable wife of the President, a woman who suffered first from the loss of her young son and later survived her husband’s assassination.

Field first showed she could do more than fluffy, lighthearted roles when she portrayed Sybil, a woman suffering from associative identity disorder. She got the part after taking time to study with the famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg, and it proved a tour de force that altered critical perception of her skills. Field showed off her chops as she shifted personalities in a blink, changing from sweet to threatening. It earned her the first of three Emmy®Awards; her two Oscars came for Norma Rae, about the real-life union activist, and Places in the Heart. She’s nominated again, as Best Supporting Actress, for Lincoln, so good luck to her. The competition is tough (Anne Hathaway), but I’m sure Field is preparing a memorable speech just in case. She has to top her last one.

Throughout her career, Field has regularly jumped between TV and film, which is now commonplace but wasn’t at the time she did so. (Movie actors, at least in the US, used to disdain TV.)  In both media she has distinguished herself: on TV, she appeared as a guest in ER and a regular in Brothers and Sisters, and on the big screen she starred in Smokey and the Bandit, Absence of Malice, Steel Magnolias, Forrest Gump, among many others. She’s also done some directing of her own and fights for numerous liberal causes.

She recently attended the Palm Springs Film Gala. It appears she gave a “killer speech” there.

She really, really wanted the part of Mary Lincoln. Here’s how she got it. (She can thank Daniel Day-Lewis.)

Field had to gain 25 pounds to play the role. (Did I mention she really wanted it?) She has since lost the weight.

She loved acting alongside Day-Lewis.

Field suffers from osteoporosis and has become an advocate for women’s health.

Day-Lewis would text her … in character! (Did Lincoln text?)

She, and a host of other former Oscar victors (including Bigelow), talk about their first or last time winning.

The political side of Sally: Field guested on MSNBC’s The Last Word.

Field and Oprah had a chat.


Thursday, 1/ 24: Tavi Gevinson

When she was just 11 years old, Tavi Gevinson started a popular blog called Style Rookie, focusing on fashion. It became a sensation, and in just two years, she managed to get 50,000 hits a day and win the interest of designers and editors. But fashion wasn’t enough to occupy this smart, talented, and enterprising young woman. Her interests expanded, especially in feminism. So, at 15, she created Rookie, hoping to appeal to teens who not only cared about clothes, makeup, and hair, but also about cultural issues in general. The result? ONE MILLION views. As someone who works in publishing, I know those numbers are irresistible to editors and so the inevitable book is now here: Rookie Yearbook One. It features the very best of the blog, collected in a single hard-copy volume. Do you feel like a slacker yet? It’s getting me depressed, frankly! According to Tavi’s site, the book includes:” stickers created by Rookie illustrators, a paper crown designed by Meadham Kirchoff, and a flexidisc with songs by Supercute! and Dum Dum Girls.”

I think it will be fun to hear Stephen interview a 16-year-old. Just about his daughter’s age, too…

I included the publisher page, but you can also buy it on this page at the Rookie website.

The “Rookie” sensation was profiled by CNN.  This is a great article, and explains how huge she has become, from front row seats at fashion week to praise from Lady Gaga.

Of course, she’s on Twitter.

She gave a TED talk . . . at 15 years old!

She and Lena Dunham—who wrote for her blog—have something in common: they both love Taylor Swift! Oh, yeah: they’re both young overachievers, too.

Stephen’s one-time BFF, Jimmy Fallon, has already interviewed Gevinson.

Her latest project? Narrating a short film.

Gevinson has slammed Seventeen magazine for imitating her style.

Read an interview with her in Interview.


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

Jon has quite the list of guests this week!

Monday, 1/21: Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The week starts off with a Supreme Court Justice: the first Latina (she’s Puerto Rican) to serve on the highest court of the land. The Bronx-born judge received her law degree from Yale and then worked as a New York City DA for a time. Bush Sr. nominated her to New York’s district court; Clinton to the court of appeals. Sotomayor has taught at both Columbia and NYU, and she has a new book that came out just last week, My Beloved World.

She spoke on NPR.

Sotomayor swore in Joe Biden—with one eye on the clock.

The New York Times reviewed the book.

She spoke to Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

Tuesday, 1/22: Jennifer Lopez

It’s Jennie from the block! The one-time fly girl from In Living Color is now a superstar actress and singer, and dependable tabloid fodder. Like fellow Latina Sotomayor, Lopez grew up in the Bronx. (And that may be the only time you’ll hear these two women’s names in the same sentence.) Her two best movies, in my opinion, were Selena, the biopic of the Chicana singer who was tragically shot and killed by her former fan club president, and the wonderful Out of Sight, with George Clooney. Her newest release is Parker, co-starring Jason Statham.

PEOPLE magazine profiled her recently.

Follow her on Twitter.

Visit her website.

Wednesday, 1/23: Missy Cummings

We know Missy Cummings from the Report: she’s s the Boeing Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Director of the Humans and Automation Lab. The Naval Academy graduate and pilot, who has a PhD in systems engineering, also is starring on the PBS series Rise of the Drones.

Visit her MIT page.

She gave a TED talk.

WIRED interviewed her.

Thursday, 1/24: Christopher Walken

I admit it: I love Christopher Walken. Yes, he frequently plays scary and crazy and psychotic—but anyone who ever saw him in Pennies from Heaven knows he can dance, too. He’s starred in such films as The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction, and Catch Me if You Can, and earned a Tony nomination for his stage performance in A Beheading in Spokane. And back to the dance: if you haven’t seen Fatboy Slim’s Grammy®-winning music video “Weapon of Choice,” directed by Spike Jonze and featuring the choreography and performance of one Mr. Walken, I order you to watch it now! His newest film is Stand Up Guys, about a team of reunited gangsters.

It’s not all blood and tragedy for Walken; here he is on Funny or Die. (And I would like to be invited to that dinner, please.)

The New York Times interviewed him. And here’s  the trailer for the film discussed in the article, A Late Quartet.

This is his second visit with Jon.


That’s all folks! Let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing.

Cheers, and have a great week.

  • CN Helper

    To be fair, the Monsignor has basically resigned from the Church. It’s not like he is baptizing babies and selling meth at the same time; although that would make for a great Breaking Bad- style spin off, right?

    I am doing Monday night’s ep guide so I really needed to be educated on who Ta-Nehisi Coates is. Now I know, so thank you, karenatasha! I think he will be an awesome guest. It’s great that Bigelow is making her way back to the Report, I am sure Stephen & crew had their questions all lined up. Sally Field will be terrific, I have a soft spot for Steel Magnolias, I know it’s kind of kitschy thing to admit but def true. “Young over-acheiver” seems to describes Tavi Gevinson well, but I say hey, go girl. Ladies like her and Lena Dunham are all the rage nowadays – young female entrepreneurs.

    Happy viewing week everyone!

  • karenatasha

    @CN Helper
    CN, I think I prefer the “Breaking Bad” spin-off. Can’t I have that? It’s so much more fun!

    I think many people have a soft spot for Steel Magnolias; it has a cult following, actually. I admit I’m resistant to its charms, but that’s just me. Glad to help with Coates; he should be an interesting guest. As for Bigelow, once I heard why she wasn’t there, I figured she’d reschedule. I wonder how that interview will go. She’s beginning to get pretty testy about the torture criticism and has answered it about as much as I think she’s ever going to. I haven’t seen the film yet, so I shall reserve criticism. I know my friend, quoted in the article, thinks that it’s a bit unfair.

    Tavi Gevinson makes me feel like a slacker! It will be interesting to see how such a young woman handles Stephen, but I expect he’ll be at his softest.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    Hi Karenatasha!

    I’m most looking forward to Bigelow. To see how Stephen/”Stephen” handles it. I haven’t seen the movie either. So I can’t comment on it other then what I’ve read. However I do hope Colbert doesn’t let Bigelow get away with that “No government involvement” line Jon allowed Chastain to say last week. There’s an investigation in the congress about the government giving info to the filmmakers about what happened during the OBL raid that may have been to secret. There’s also widespread belief that the CIA shaped how the filmmakers show the tracking down of intel of OBL to make them (The CIA) look good. Chastain may not know any better, but someone a smart and well read as Jon should have.

    Asides from that, I’m looking forward to Coates and Fields. And Karen there’s no way Stephen’s letting that “You like me! You really like me!” line go unmentioned. Even though I’m sure she’s (rightly) tired of it. :)

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin

    Hi, Mr. Arkadin! I think the conversation with Bigelow will be fascinating. I agree with you that Chastain as actress isn’t the person who can best comment on the behind-the-scenes goings-on. So I understand why Jon didn’t press her as much. There may, in fact, be things Chastain doesn’t even know. It will be interesting to see how Stephen handles the situation with the filmmaker.

    And I don’t think Stephen will let Field’s Oscar line go without comment either–though he could address it in passing in the intro. By the way, just FYI, the Field line isn’t actually “You like me! You really like me!” (Though I know that’s always the parody.) Wikipedia has it as: “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin
    Oops wasn’t done! I was going to say that it’s still worthy of parody, but slightly different.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    @karenatasha

    Thanks for the correction on the Fields line. I never got the scorn she took for what she said anyway. And in context, it’s even more baffling. I think the “hipsters” were just tried of her. Too bad.

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin

    I think what got her was probably the unbridled enthusiasm combined with her previous reputation as perky. Also, I think the parody–the one you and most people quote–has kind of overridden the original.

    I really think Stephen might use it in his opening when mentioning she’s his guest rather than in the interview itself. But you never know.