Better Know a Guest: February 4 – 7, 2013

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

Hello Hubsters,

“Now’s the time to say goodbye . . . Good night. Good night.”

Yes, today is my final BKAG, at least for the time being. I’ll still stick around to comment and support, and also continue to do some “special reporting” when something Stephen-related happens in New York City. I’m sad, but I know that right now it is the best thing for me.

Mr. Colbert has been smokin’ for the past few weeks, really making the most of the madness out there in Congress, in the media, and in our society. We’ve been blessed with several WORDS, which I’ve enjoyed immensely, as well as some fantastic guests. I expect the fabulousness to continue as we move into February.

And so, without more ado: to the days ahead! One note: though I wanted to make this a good final post, I will not be doing Jon’s guests. I was nearly done, went to leave the page after having saved the drafts SEVERAL TIMES, and lost everything on Stephen’s Thursday show as well as all I’d done on The Daily Show. I simply don’t have the heart or the time to recreate it all. I’m so sorry. Talk about going out with a whimper….

Monday, 2/4: Justice Sonia Sotomayor

So, exactly two weeks ago, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited The Daily Show; but it turns out that was only the stepping stone to the big prize–the Report! (Sorry, Jon, but I couldn’t resist.) Other than Nate Silver–who takes the medal for appearing on both shows in a single week–I’m not sure anyone else has had the honor of visiting Stephen and Jon in such close proximity. I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen’s sure-to-be-different approach  to this esteemed guest. But I’m sure he will also also discuss her book, My Beloved World, which has now topped the New York Times bestseller list.

Just to review Justice Sotormayor’s credentials: The Bronx-born judge, whose parents emigrated to New York from Puerto Rico, grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. Her father, an alcoholic, died when she was only nine years old, and only at that point did she fully begin speaking English. In addition, Sotomayor, a diabetic, had to learn how to manage her disease–including giving herself insulin shots. Yet she ultimately graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and went on to receive her law degree from Yale. Unlike Clarence Thomas, who took advantage of affirmative action but wants to deprive others of the help, Sotomayor admits she benefited from it; at the same time, she had to work hard and overcome discouragement from her teachers to get where she is. After receiving her degree, she worked as a New York City DA and then spent some time in private practice. Bush Sr. nominated her to New York’s district court; Clinton to the court of appeals, and of course, Obama placed her on the Supreme Court–making her only the third woman justice and the first Latina. Sotomayor has taught at both Columbia and NYU.

She spoke on NPR.

The New York Times reviewed the book.

Also from the Times: the Editorial Page editor’s blog post on the book.

VOXXI, a Latino website, also wrote about the new book, and Sotomayor’s positive attitude.

The Economist reviewed My Beloved World, calling out her “clear-eyed and profoundly optimistic thoughtfulness.”

For a full bio, you can go to Judgepedia. It’s a very interesting site, and has some good discussions of Sotomayor’s rulings.

TIME magazine ran an article on her, and focused particularly on her appearance with Oprah.

Tuesday, 2/5: Julie Andrews

The Report is alive . . . with the sound of Julie! Oscar-winning actress and singer extraordinaire Julie Andrews starred in some of the most notable musicals of the 20th century. On stage, she played Liza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Guinevere in Camelot (she received Emmy awards for both); on TV, millions and millions of people watched her as the beleaguered heroine of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; on the screen she won the hearts of generations of children as the title character of Mary Poppins (her Academy Award), as the singing nun-turned governess Maria in The Sound of Music (her second nomination), as the wife of the Bo Derek-obsessed husband in 10, and as the woman who pretends to be a man playing a woman in Victoria/Victoria. That last tour-de-force, directed by her husband Blake Edwards, earned her a third Oscar nomination and also became a theatrical phenomenon–as long as she herself appeared in the lead. After she developed a vocal problem (following the show’s grueling schedule), Andrews had an operation that effectively destroyed her amazing four-octave voice. She did ultimately sue the doctors who performed the surgery. But Andrews has continued to act, endearing herself to tweens in The Princess Diaries and narrating the popular Enchanted.

In recent years Andrews–who was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and a recipient of a Lifetime Grammy–has remade herself as a children’s book author, often partnering with her daughter. Just a few weeks ago, her latest came out: a Valentine’s Day story called The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart. And there ain’t nothing like a dame: the Queen made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

Go to this page to see all her children’s books. Or visit the Julie Andrews Collection.

She spoke candidly to Britain’s Daily Mail about her throat operation.

Andrews regularly hosts PBS’s Great Performances presentation of the Vienna Philharmonic holiday concert.

Like her on Facebook.

Of course, she memorably appeared on the Report already.

Her friend Carol Burnett honored her when she received a Kennedy Center Honor.

Andrews appeared on Craig Ferguson.

Listen to her at 10 years old.

Wednesday, 1/6: Lawrence Wright

Scientology has been spending lots of money on ads lately–and no wonder. Their major celebrity spokesperson, Tom Cruise, is not at his most popular. And in spite of intimidation and the constant threat of lawsuits, several recently published books have attempted to draw the curtain from the secretive religion/cult. (Whatever you choose to call it.) Lawrence Wright has written one of the most talked-about exposés, called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.  In case you don’t know, Scientology has a celebrity center in LA, and they have courted numerous actors–who apparently are treated far better than the average person who checks out this weird church of L. Ron Hubbard. Among the stars, believers include John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman, Juliette Lewis, Elisabeth Moss, Leah Remini, Beck, and many others.

Wright won the Pulitzer for his last study, The Looming Tower, about the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the events that led up to the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. (Al-Qaeda. Scientology. Lawrence Wright lives dangerously.) He’s actually worked in the Middle East, teaching at the American University of Cairo, so he has some familiarity with the region. In addition to his books, Wright writes for The New Yorker, has penned screenplays (for The Siege, starring Denzel Washington), and teaches at the NYU Law School. His research trips for The Looming Tower became part of an HBO documentary, My Trip to Al-Qaeda.

Visit his website, which has links to several places where you can buy (and read an excerpt from) Going Clear as well as The Looming Tower.

The New York Times reviewed the book.

And because one article isn’t enough, the Times had a second.

Of course, Scientologists insist that the book contains errors. He got the year of TomKat’s wedding wrong! Don’t trust him!

Follow him on Twitter.

He was interviewed on Slate.

The Guardian also reviewed the book. Note that it cannot be published in the UK, where libel laws are different from, and much stricter than, the US.

Wright appeared on NPR to discuss Going Clear.

The Wall Street Journal talks about the book, including a bit about Wright’s meeting with Scientology representatives.

Thursday, 1/7: Benh Zeitlin

I haven’t yet seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I definitely plan to; it has the endorsement of even my pickiest film professor friends. Beasts became the little indie film that could, having won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the Caméra d’or at Cannes, and four Academy Award nominations: the coveted Best Picture, Best Director for tonight’s guest, Benh Zeitlin, Best Actress for Quvenzhané Wallis (the youngest ever to receive a nomination), and Best Adapted Screenplay for Zeitlin and his co-writer Lucy Alibar–who first met as teenagers at playwriting camp.

Set in the Louisiana Bayou in a cut-off area called Bathtub, Beasts of the Southern Wild focuses on a little girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her ailing father. As the film begins, the neighborhood prepares for a devastating storm, refusing to abandon their homes. During this disaster, Hushpuppy endures her own rite of passage, searching for her long-lost mother and dealing with some fantastical creatures called Aurochs, presumably being released by the melting icebergs.

Amazingly, Benh Zeitlin had never directed a full-length feature film prior to this; only a short work called Glory at Sea, made in 2008. The Wesleyan graduate also composes and does animation, and though New York-born (in Queens), he has since moved down to New Orleans. He also has a Southern connection through his mother, who comes from South Carolina. The unusual spelling of Benh, by the way, comes from his full name, Benjamin Harold.

Zeitlin told the Hollywood Reporter that “Steven Spielberg raised me.” (Metaphorically speaking, that is.)

The Smithsonian magazine examined how he came to make the film.

The Los Angeles Times discussed Zeitlin’s move to New Orleans.

Zeitlin helped establish The Creators Project/Court 13, a filmmaking collective.

Interview magazine spoke to Zeitlin.

Follow the film on Twitter.

Like the film on Facebook.

Read A.O. Scott’s review in the New York Times.

Now let’s check in with our good friend Jon Stewart!

Please visit The Daily Show guest page to learn more! If I can add to this–I certainly have a point of view on Michelle Rhee, and it’s negative–I will try to do so.

Monday, 2/4: Michelle Rhee: author of Radical: Fighting to Put Students First.

Tuesday, 2/5: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; he’ll probably discuss gun laws, which are strong in the City.

Wednesday, 2/6: Ed Whitacre: Former CEO of General Motors and ATT, and author of American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA.

Thursday, 2/7: Neil Barofsky: Former Special U.S. Treasury Department Inspector General and author of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.

Goodbye, everyone. Thanks for being such wonderful readers and commenters. And remember, I still do want to hear from you about your favorite guests this week!


  • Ann G

    @karenatasha, thanks for all the hard work you contributed here and at NFZ. Your BKAG posts were always so thorough and informative, and I always appreciated how much effort you put into them. Whoever picks up these posts will have a tough act to follow.

  • Elanor

    *Sniff* I echo Ann G’s words. Your BKAG posts are amazing. So glad you will stay to comment and support!

  • Mr. Arkadin

    Wow! Looks like a great week of guests. Especially the first three. (I can’t get very excited about a director who’d say something like, “Steven Spielberg raised me.” The last thing the world of movies needs is another director influenced by Spielberg!)

    Anyway. I’m also interested to see how Jon handles his 1st two guest. I thought Stephen let both these people skate when he interviewed them. But since the only union Jon seems to have the remotes sympathy for is the teacher’s union (His mom’ union!) I’m curious what he has to say to Rhee. And with “stop and frisk” in the news constantly maybe Jon can be moved to question Kelly about that at least half way as aggressively as he did Al Gore about the sale of Current! Or maybe the NYPD’s world wide spying on Muslims? I live in hope.

    Okay. So your still leaving. I won’t go through all my incredibly well-reasoned (Nay! Brilliant!) arguments of why this is not a good idea and I’m against it. I’ll just say thank for all you do and have done. (For the Hub, NFZ, and especially me! You were the first person to reply to to me at the NFZ! That was a big deal! It’s also when I knew you were a genius.) So good luck in your stalking of David Hallberg and as your people say, aloha.
    Be see you in the comments section!

  • karenatasha

    @Ann G

    Ann, fellow NFZ-er, you don’t know how much your words mean to me. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you.

  • karenatasha


    Thanks so much, Elanor! I know the remaining Hubsters will keep everything running beautifully!

  • karenatasha

    @Mr. Arkadin

    Ha! You made me laugh right till the very end! I didn’t know I was the first to respond to you, but yes, I’m willing to consider it a sign of my intelligence, if not genius. 😉

    Jon will definitely get on Rhee; I had a long paragraph penned on her that got lost when WordPress sabotaged me, but I will say right here that I think she, and her policies, are awful.

    As for Kelly, that’s a more complex case, because my bet is that they’ll be discussing gun legislation, which Kelly has been addressing everywhere. And Kelly’s views on that (along with Bloomberg’s) are good. “Stop and Frisk” was horrific, and fortunately the courts have now struck it down.

  • CN Helper

    Well, karenatasha, thanks for everything. You’ve been doing these posts for a long while, since the NFZ days, and the time and effort you dedicated has been both generous and significant. We will miss your weekly posts and insights, but I cheer myself by knowing you will still be supporting us. I hope that all the projects you are working on this year are successful. Cheers, as you like to say!

  • susan209

    Karenatasha! I haven’t visited in quite a long while, but I saw this post in my email and had to respond. Like Mr. Arkadin, you were also one of the first people I corresponded with Colbert-wise, and I’m happy to say I’ve gotten to know you as a friend. I’ve been especially lucky. Thanks for all you’ve done here. Looking forward to future fangirl get-togethers.

  • Katt

    Looking forward to Julie Andrews. I wonder if they will sing together again?

    A big thank you to karenatasha for all of your hard work both here at the Hub and at NFZ. It has been a pleasure working with you.

  • llama

    So long farewell alfweidershein (sp?) goodbye Karen.
    (see, I tied that into the guest this week, eh? eh? )

    Anyway, Karen we will miss you, but you’ll still be around, so that’s great.
    and nice find on the 12 year old Julie Andrews clip. Looking forward to a nice week of guests.

  • karenatasha

    Thank YOU, Katt, for creating this space for Stephen-ites to gather when we had no place to go. It was your efforts that made it happen, and I am grateful.

  • karenatasha

    Thank you so much, Susan! We will have to get together. It’s time for another gathering. Sending you hugs.

  • karenatasha

    Thanks, llama! You tied everything in beautifully with the guests!
    Keep up the great work here, and yes, I will be around commenting. You won’t get rid of me that easily.

  • lockhart43

    Karenatasha, know that you and your posts will be dearly missed and that you are loved! I’m glad to know that you will be commenting here and there and that we’ve not lost you completely :). Thank you for everything!!

    I’m looking forward to Lawrence Wright the most. I didn’t know it was him at the time, but I caught the last ten minutes of his interview on Fresh Air and enjoyed what I heard.

  • anais0509

    I’m sad to see Karenatasha go…but only moderately so, because I still have FB and Twitter banters to look forward to, along with actual in-person gatherings! See you around, Karen,and take care! :)

  • karenatasha


    Oh, I am going to get verklempt here, and I’m not even Barbra Streisand! Thank you so much for your lovely words. I will really treasure the wonderful things people are saying to me. And I know that I’ll miss doing it. Just wait–when David Hallberg is back on and I’m not writing his updated bio… 😉 I guess at that point, I’ll just have to attend a taping again and do a reporT!

    I’m also expecting Lawrence Wright to be great. I’ve heard amazing things about “The Looming Tower,” and anyone who angers Scientology is just fine with me. I’m expecting a good week.

  • karenatasha

    Ha! Yes, you do–and I have those to look forward to with you! I will almost definitely be attending another performance at you-know-where at some point (just don’t have it planned yet) and will let you know if I do.

    What can I say? I’ve been blessed to have met so many Zoners and Hubsters in person, and to banter with the others here. I hope in future I’ll get to meet more.

  • Anna S

    Love your work Karenatasha! Glad you’ll still be round. And Julie Andrews, in answer to part B. But priorities – well done, have loved your BKAGs for such a long time. Best wishes!

  • Karenatasha

    @Anna S

    Oh, thank you so much, Anna! I really appreciate it.
    And I think Ms. Andrews is favorite–along with hopes of a song. We shall see.