Better Know a Guest: January 28 — 31, 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!

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. As for me, I’m winding down here: this is my next-to-last post. And I’m thrilled that Stephen has a really wide variety of guests this week for me to cover: one activist with his own unique take on environmental destruction; one multi-billionaire who’s doing good in the world; a much-praised short story writer; and a musician and music critic who examined one of the most popular symphonies in the classical canon. It’s a pretty rich list.

I thought last week had some superb pieces, both the WORD and also Stephen’s scathing commentary on the gerrymandering by the Virginia State Legislature. It’s truly appalling that this still happens in this day and age. Also kudos to one of Larry Wilmore’s all-too-rare appearances on The Daily Show; he was stunningly brilliant and reminded me why I love his work so much. I’ve been so thrilled with both Jon and Stephen in their 2013 shows; they’re fired up and ready to go, and I feel such energy from them both. It’s wonderful, and very necessary in this world we live in.

And now…presenting this week’s guests!


Monday, 1/28: Michael Shellenberger

Though the uber-conservatives continue to deny it exists, environmental destruction—particularly global warming—is one of the most crucial issues we face today. Michael Shellenberger, and his co-writer Ted Horhaus, believe it’s so important, in fact, that we can’t let environmentalists handle the job. In 2007, Shellenberger and wrote Break Through: Why We Can’t Leave Saving the Planet to Environmentalists, arguing that it’s necessary go beyond localized interest groups and appeal to the common good. The writers point out that, for one thing, countries that endorsed the Kyoto agreement to decrease greenhouse gases actually have done worse than some of the nations that didn’t. They do propose making green energy more affordable and other methods that take our modern life into account. It seems their argument (or one of them) is that we must make doing good a matter of self-interest, rather than a punishment forcing us to “give up” things we’re accustomed to. In its year of publication, the book received the Green Book Award and TIME magazine’s 2008 “Heroes of the Environment” award.

Shellenberger, who earned his MA in cultural anthropology from UC Santa Cruz,  is president and co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute  and its publication, the Breakthrough Journal. In addition, he and Nordhaus created American Environics, which does polling and market research, and Shellenberger alone established the Lumina public relations firm.

Read his articles on Slate.

Here’s another of his articles, this time explaining why turning environmental issues into “a life or death situation” hasn’t worked. An interesting analysis, I think, but I fear that people who argue against any possibility of climate change will use this to further their own agenda.

WIRED wrote an article of Shellenberger and Horhaus.

Here’s the TIME article.

Listen to a conversation with Shellenberger.

Watch him on YouTube, calling for a new liberalism.


Tuesday, 1/29: George Saunders

George Saunders, renowned for his short stories, has a new collection out, Tenth of December. With tales that cover such topics as a child’s abduction (and the person who witnesses it); a soldier returning home from war; and a man with terminal cancer, Saunders’s book has received acclaim from fellow writers like Dave Eggers and from the New York Times, where Joel Lovell called it “the best book you’ll read all year.” Interestingly, Saunders began his career as a technical writer for an engineering firm, after having earned his BS in Physical Engineering.

Saunders won the prestigious MacArthur genius grant, as well as the Guggenheim Fellowhship, and he teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. His others books include CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Pastoralia, and The Brain-dead Megaphone. Like Stephen, he has written for children (The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip).

This is his second appearance on the Report.

Saunders discussed Tenth of December on NPR.

He has written for The New Yorker.

The New Yorker also published an interview with him.

The Los Angeles Times website has a video of Saunders giving a talk.

Adrien Chen in Gawker said the he should write a novel already; in a response, Kevin McFarland explains why he doesn’t have to do so if he doesn’t want to.  As a lover of short stories, I see no reason anyone has to write a novel. Each form has its own particular beauties.

He was on  This American Life.


Wednesday, 1/30: Bill Gates

The former Microsoft mogul turned philanthropist is coming to the Report! Bill Gates has visited Jon (see below) and Melinda Gates has appeared several times with Stephen, but not her husband. We know that he now focuses on attention on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, dedicated to solving problems related to poverty, healthcare, and education. On the day of his appearance, Gates’s annual letter is due to go out, in which he “look[s] forward to sharing what we’ve learned in our work at the foundation and how that learning will be applied to our efforts moving forward.” I assume this will be a topic of conversation.

One of the Foundation’s achievements is to have nearly eradicated polio. This should, of course, already have happened, as the vaccine has existed for over 50 years. But poor people throughout the world have not always had access to it, and now, thanks to Bill Gates, they do..

Follow him on Twitter.

Stephen teamed up with the Foundation plus Donors Choose.

Like him on Facebook.

He recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal about his plan to fix the world’s biggest problems.

Gates also runs the Millennium Scholars Program.

He’ll have lots of money to invest, because according to a recent  report, he’s now $7 billion richer.

Gates gave TED a list of his favorite talks.

Gates has visited Jon twice: in 2011 and 2010. Since both of those appearances occurred in January, it looks like this year his annual visit will be to The Colbert Report instead.


Thursday, 1/31: Matthew Guerrieri

Dum dum dum DUM. I know that doesn’t let you know which four notes I’m speaking of—but click on the link and listen. They are the four notes that open Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and one of the most famous musical phrases in history. Even those who haven’t heard the rest of the symphony will recognize that  tiny excerpt, at least. Matthew Guerrieri has written a book about Beethoven’s masterpiece. Called The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination, it is a TIME magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2012,  a New Yorker Best Book of the Year, and Los Angeles Magazine‘s #1 Music Book of the Year.

According to Guerrieri, “The First Four Notes is a book about Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. More specifically, it is a book about the opening notes of that symphony; and more specifically than that, it is a book about what people have heard in those notes throughout history, and how history itself has affected what was heard.” He looks at what sources might have influenced the music, how it in turned influenced later composers, and how different groups appropriated the work for their own specific purposes. And Guerrieri also claims that Beethoven wrote the piece prior to his deafness.

A music critic for the Boston Globe, Guerrieri also has written for other publications and websites, including Vanity Fair, Playbill, and Slate. And of course he is a musician himself, a composer and pianist. You can visit his blog, Soho the Dog, to read more.

Here are some of Guerrieri’s articles at The Faster Times.

Follow him on Twitter.

He’s put up a website devoted to the book.

He appeared on the Diane Rehm Show.

The LA Times had a review of the book.

He was on NPR.

Guerrieri has written for Slate.


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

Monday, 1/28: Bob Costas

Longtime NBC sports reporter Bob Costas recently stirred up a firestorm with his gun control comments on the air. In general, people tend not to be happy when the guy who reports on baseball and football moves into the political realm, but I understand why he did. The lucky guy who gets to go the the Olympics (and with Stephen!) has won 19 Emmy Awards and been named Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association eight times.

He has written several books, including 100 Yard of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History and Fair Ball.
Costas revisited the film A League of Her Own on the MLB network.
He delivered the eulogy at the funeral of the great Stan (the Man) Musial.
He’s appeared on The Daily Show three times; here’s his most recent visit, in 2011. (You can find the others on Jon’s guest page.)

Tuesday, 1/29: Melissa McCarthy

Actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy made a splash in Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids, and also starred in the TV show, Mike & Molly, for which she won the Emmy®. She trained with the famed troupe the Groundlings in Los Angeles before getting a role on the popular Gilmore Girls. McCarthy appears with Jason Bateman in a new film, Identify Thief, which opens February 8th. (PS: Jenny McCarthy is her cousin.)

Apparently, she punched Bateman while filming–and gave him a bloody nose.
Here’s a fan site for her.
She has videos on Funny or Die.

Wednesday, 1/30: Al Gore

The former Vice President of the United States is on. This makes his sixth visit–which means he’s a REALLY good friend of the show. What might he discuss? Well, there’s always global warming, and also the sale of his Current TV to Al Jazeera. Either of those two topics, or a combination, should be enough for an extended interview. And, oh yeah–the Nobel Peace Prize winner also has a new book out, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.

Watch his TED talks.
Follow him on Twitter.
Like him on Facebook
Here’s his most recent appearance on TDS, in 2009. The other clips are on the guest page on the Daily Show website.

Thursday, 1/31: Jason Bateman

Turnabout is fair play: if McCarthy is on the show Tuesday, then her costar gets Thursday. You already have the link to the film’s trailer and the article about him getting punched. Some of Bateman’s other notable work includes the films Juno and Up in the Air, and of course the TV show Arrested Development. For his role as Michael Bluth on that show, he won the Golden Globe® as well as several other awards. And just as McCarthy has a famous relative, so does Bateman: his sister Justine starred in Family Ties.

Follow him on Twitter.

He spoke about the upcoming Arrested Development film.

Here’s a fan site for him.

This is his fourth time on The Daily Show; he last appeared in August 2011; he visited almost exactly a year before that, in 2010.


That’s it for this week! Let me know who you’re most looking forward to seeing.

Cheers, all!

  • http://pear.ly/bqtcD Mrc

    Thanks for the guide. I can’t wait to see the episode with Bill Gates. It should be an interesting interview.

  • Mr. Arkadin

    WTF! You’re still leaving?! Even after I voiced my disapproval?! You’re really selfish, Karenatasha.

    I think I’m most interested in the Guerrieri interview. I used to be obsessed with Beethoven. Particularly the 5th and 7th symphonies, and the piano concertos. So I’m looking forward to what he has to say and how “Stephen” reacts.

    I’d completely forgotten that Saunders had been on before. Even after watching the link you provided. I still don’t remember it. And I’ve never miss a show! Strange.

    BTW: Am I the only one who see the name “George Saunders” and thinks, “Wow! He was so great in “All About Eve!” I can’t wait to see this interview!” and then remembers that THAT “George Sanders” killed himself forty years ago because he was bored? No? I’m not the only one? What a relief! I thought I was weird or something.

  • karenatasha

    @Mrc

    I agree! I wonder what the letter will say? I haven’t had a chance to check on whether it’s been released yet.

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin

    Awww. Thanks for your disapproval–in this case it’s a compliment. But yes, I am carrying through with my departure. Even in the past few weeks things have been difficult for me in terms of my freelance work, and I’ve had no time to get the library and do research for my longer-term assignments.

    And, no, you are not the only one to think of George Saunders, the actor! He was great in “All About Eve.” I’m also looking forward to Guerrieri, and I have a feeling that the real Stephen is going to emerge just a little in this interview.

  • CN Helper

    I am still hazzing such a sad about karenatasha’s departure it is hard to comment. *sniff, sniff* However, we must trudge onward in our need to cover all things Stephen. And she best be sticking around in the comments!!! I would say that I am looking most forward to Gates. Maybe Melinda told him that Steve Colbert guy wasn’t so bad after all. I just hope he doesn’t bolt from the set like he did the first time he was on TDS. It was funny, but odd nevertheless. And Stephen does seem to have an interesting relationship with billionaires overall.

  • lockhart43

    Another great week from the looks of that guest lineup (and judging from last night’s episode)! Bill Gates is the only person I’ve heard of, but all the guests sound interesting. In TDS Land – I like Melissa McCarthy and am looking forward to her tonight. The whole lineup for TDS this week sounds awesome too, actually.

    Karenatasha, I’m glad you mentioned Larry Wilmore’s appearance on TDS last week; his appearance reminded me of why I miss him when he’s gone. I think the correspondents are on the uptick again in terms of appearances – Sam Bee had a report last night that was fantastic.

  • karenatasha

    @CN Helper
    Awww, thank you so much, CNHelper! I really appreciate it. It’s been a ball working with you and all the others Hub-staff. And I will be around for comments, and willing to do whatever I can to help.

    I think the Gates interview will be really interesting. I wonder how he’ll handle “Stephen?”

  • karenatasha

    @lockhart43
    Lockhart, yes, Wilmore was just amazing. It is funny how Jon dialed down the correspondents. I know Aasif was busy in a play, but presumably the others were around. I don’t know. They could have had stand-up gigs or something on that line. And yes, Samantha Bee’s report yesterday was awesome.