“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.
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!