Bestselling sports writer Joe Posnanski recalls delving into the rabbit hole of magician Harry Houdini’s legendary life and separating fact from the fiction invented by Houdini and his followers. Joe discusses the handcuffs that Houdini almost couldn’t get out of, some of the more bizarre things people challenged him to escape, and how Houdini upped the ante with increasingly more dangerous escapes to keep audiences interested. He explains why many people falsely believe that the magician died performing his most famous trick, and we talk about the secret code that Houdini’s widow Bess used to try to make contact with him from beyond the grave. Joe also gives us entre into the world of Houdini superfans from the couple who committed a crime to honor their hero to the mysterious man who calls himself "Houdini’s ghost." Plus he reveals what it’s like inside David Copperfield’s private magic warehouse in Las Vegas, how Houdini learned from some of the turn of the century’s most bizarre sideshow acts, and his daughter’s favorite Houdini revenge story.
Order Joe Posnanski's wonderful new book The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Keep up with him at JoePosnanski.com or on Twitter at @JPosnanski. Today’s episode was sponsored by Kronos HR Solutions and Avalara Sales Tax Solutions.
Golden Globe-winner Edward Norton talks about his film Motherless Brooklyn's 20 year journey to the big screen and what it was like to write, direct, and star in this neo-noir masterpiece. He shares some of the things he’s learned from working with directors like Milos Forman and Woody Allen. Edward talks about the real life New York powerbroker who inspired his film’s antagonist, his own grandfather’s crusade for low income housing, and the things that get lost in the service of progress. Plus we delve into our mutual love of jazz, classic noir detective films, and Manhattan landmarks of a bygone era.
Don't miss Edward Norton's new film Motherless Brooklyn now showing in theaters. Order Stuart Russell's new book Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold. Today’s episode was sponsored by Afternoon Cyber Tea podcast, Invitae, and Purotrader. Check out www.Purotrader.com and use the promo code NEWS for a chance to win a day at the Porsche Racing Experience in Los Angeles or Atlanta.
Jeannie Gaffigan reveals how she went from a perfectly normal life
to being rushed into surgery for a pear-sized brain tumor over the coarse of an Easter Weekend, why things got worse just when she thought she was in the clear, and how she learned that laughter truly IS the best medicine. She reveals how she and her husband comedian Jim Gaffigan write jokes together, talks about Jim’s surprising swagger when he first began romancing her, and how she finally knew that he was "the one." She discusses why she and Jim decided to end The Jim Gaffigan Show after two seasons, what it was like to balance a tv family with their real family, and how they manage to keep track of five children.
Order Jeannie's book When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Follow Jeannie on twitter at @JeannieGaffigan. Today’s episode was sponsored by Capella University's online doctoral program.
Meryl Streep is arguably the greatest actress of this or any generation. She has starred in more than 60 films, won 3 Oscars, and received a record setting 21 nominations. Entertainment reporter Erin Carlson discusses Streep's illustrious acting career, her advocacy for women off the screen, and her deeply guarded personal life. Erin delves Jane Fonda’s mentorship of Streep on the film Julia, Meryl’s rivalries with Jessica Lang, and the behind-the-scenes drama between her and Dustin Hoffman on Kramer vs Kramer. She suggests that the late actor John Cazale was the love of Meryl Streep’s life, she shares how he how helped her hone her craft, and reveals how Meryl coped with his tragic untimely death. We talk about acting over 40, how Meryl became a champion for better roles and equal pay for actresses, and how she navigated doing business with disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. Plus Erin weighs in on Meryl Streep’s best performances and most underrated films.
Order Erin's book Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Today’s episode was sponsored by Stitcher's new podcast Lost at the Smithsonian. Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, or favorite podcast app.
Comedian Anthony Jeselnik revels in making audiences a little uncomfortable and now he's making his fellow comedians uncomfortable as host of the hilarious new interview show Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik. He shares how the Saturday Night Live bit "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" inspired his uniquely off-beat style of comedy, the time he auditioned to be the anchor of SNL’s Weekend Update, and some pretty smart advice he once got from Lorne Michaels on how to write a late night monologue. Anthony recalls the Comedy Central Roast that changed his life and what makes for the perfect roast speech. We delve into how Good Talk deconstructs the late night talk show, why this famously confident comedian never does self-deprecating humor, the power of silence in standup, and the one thing that Anthony says is the most important element of good comedy. Plus talks about how to out-deadpan Tig Notaro, what it was like to roast a future President, and the comedic genius of HBO’s Deadwood.
Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik premieres this Friday, September 6 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central. Keep up with Anthony Jeselnik at www.anthonyjeselnik.com or on twitter at @Anthony Jeselnik. This episode is sponsored by MyBookie, and White Castle.
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary begins as a profile on a uniquely deranged magician, who built a career out of shock and deception in the 1980s, but it quickly becomes the bizarre story about the unravelling of his documentarian Ben Berman. Johnathan Szeles and Ben Berman join me at the world famous Magic Castle to talk about the crazy experience of making this film. Johnathan discusses the heart condition that lead to his retirement in 2014, what his doctors say 5 years after giving him a year to live, and why Johnathan believes the secret to his survival is either stem cells, meth, or both! Ben talks about having to relinquish some control as a director and follow the Amazing Johnathan wherever this wild ride took him including having to contend with a second crew filming a totally different documentary about Amazing Johnathan. Plus the psychology of magic, the gamesmanship of elaborate pranks, why David Copperfield and Chris Angel hate each others’ guts, and Johnathan knows a lot about faking your own death!
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is available on Hulu and in select theaters beginning Friday, August 16. Keep up with the Amazing Jonathan at theamazingjohnathan.com or on Twitter at @TheAmazingJ, and follow Ben Berman on Twitter at @LipsBerman. This episode is sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Actor Wyatt Russell is the star of the most original show on television AMC's Lodge 49. We discuss the allure of ancient fraternal orders, the importance of embracing everyday "magic," and getting curious about the places and the people we all too often drive past. He talks about how the show speaks to the isolation of modern social media culture and our longing for fellowship. Wyatt reminisces about previous career as a professional hockey player and the injury that sidelined him from hockey, but opened the door to a career in film and television. He recalls getting his first big break just when he was ready to give up on acting, following in the steps of his famous parents Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and what they taught him about keeping celebrity in perspective.
Season 2 of Lodge 49 premieres on Monday, August 12 at 10/9C on AMC. Visit www.amc.com for more information.. This episode is sponsored by Bank of America’s The Academy for Consumer and Small Business.
Walton Goggins and Jim Gaffigan talk about getting over their fear of snakes to portray Pentecostal snake handlers in their new film Them That Follow. They discuss the beliefs behind the religion, why members of these Pentecostal sect live in fear of the law, and why they took particular care not to reinforce negative stereotypes about the people of rural Appalachia. We talk about what attracts Walton to religious roles from The Apostle to Them That Follow, and how he manages to move so effortlessly between drama and comedy. Then Jim Gaffigan discusses his own transition from comedy to drama, how his acting and standup inform each other, and what it’s been like hit the film festival circuit. He goes into how his experience as a devout Catholic informed his portrayal in the film, his upcoming standup special for Amazon, and how his wife Jeannie’s recovery from a brain tumor has inspired him to get more personal in his act.
Them That Follow opens in theaters this Friday, August 2. Also look for Walton Goggins in HBO’s new limited series The Righteous Gemstones August 18 and Jim’s new comedy special Quality Time on Amazon Prime Video beginning August 16. This episode is sponsored by Anchor. Anchor is a Spotify-owned company that makes it easy for anyone to make a podcast, for free. Get started at www.anchor.fm/kickassnews. We're also sponsored by BetterHelp Online Counseling and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) discusses his new documentary Pavarotti. He talks about the art of filmmaking and storytelling, how he approaches a documentary versus a narrative film about a real person, and how he got the idea to present Pavarotti’s story as an opera. We get into Pavarotti the romantic, how Ron got the various women of Pavarotti’s life to participate in the film, and why Pavarotti often compared his famous voice to a tempestuous lover. He tells the story of how the Three Tenors were formed, and how Pavarotti took opera into sports stadiums and the mainstream by collaborating with everyone from Steve Wonder to Sting. Plus we talk about Pavarotti’s enormous appetite, his even bigger heart for charity, and Ron’s own chance encounter with this opera legend.
Neil Gaiman talks about adapting his book Good Omens for television, the book’s long journey to the screen, and how he took the reins as show-runner in a promise to his late co-author Terry Pratchett. Neil recalls the origins of their book as a fable about nature vs nurture and opens up about the on screen cameo that was just too painful for him to film. He discusses his writing process, how he manages to avoid distractions, and why he chooses to write across many different mediums. Plus Neil shares the story of the time he and Michael Sheen accidentally dined on an endangered species and got a front row seat for a federal raid.
Neil Gaiman's six-part limited series Good Omens stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant and is available on Amazon Prime Video beginning Friday, May 31st. Keep up with Neil at www.neilgaiman.com and follow him on Twitter at @neilhimself. Today's podcast was sponsored by Udacity.
Liam Cunningham discusses his 7 epic seasons as Sir Davos Seaworth on Game of Thrones and going from fighting "White Walkers" to fighting Ebola in National Geographic Channel's limited series The Hot Zone. We also talk about his original audition for Game of Thrones, why he first thought he got the polite brush off from the series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and what it's like when he encounters hard-core GoT fans in person. Then Liam discusses the true story of America’s close call with Ebola in 1989, the very real threat of a new outbreak in the U.S. today, the danger of the modern anti-vaxxer movement, and the importance of striking the right balance between rational and irrational fears. He talks about filming The Hot Zone in the South African bush, his early years working as an electrician in neighboring Zimbabwe, and how the experience directly led to his pursuing a career in acting. Plus he reveals the secret to not getting killed off by Game of Thrones producers Benioff and Weiss, we debate whether a knight can really create another knight, and we attempt to figure out who was responsible for that infamous Starbucks cup!
The six-night television event The Hot Zone premieres on Memorial Day, May 27, at 9/8C on National Geographic Channel. Visit www.nationalgeographic.com for more info and behind-the-scenes extras, and follow Liam on Twitter at @liamcunningham1. Today's episode was sponsored by Hackable podcast. Subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts and leave us a review, follow us on Twitter at @KickassNewsPod, and take our listener survey at www.podsurvey.com/kick.
Bill Hader (SNL, Trainwreck, Barry) talks about his childhood love of film, his early days as a struggling production assistant in Hollywood, and how he's finally getting back to his cinematic roots with his dark comedy series Barry. He discusses directing the much talked about episode 5 this season, how he staged an epic 30 minute fight scene, and why he had to hire a construction crew to build him the perfect tree. Hader recalls his original audition for Saturday Night Live, his first meeting with Lorne Michaels, and a few of his favorite obscure impressions from SNL. He shares what he learned about story from his time in the writers room on South Park and how his love of cheesy true crime shows like Forensic Files and Snapped inform the grittier aspects of Barry.
Watch the season finale of Barry this Sunday May 19 on HBO. For more on Barry including out-takes and behind the scenes extras, Visit www.hbo.com/barry for more on Barry including outtakes and behind-the-scenes extras. Today's episode was sponsored by Kronos HR Solutions and BetterHelp.com. Subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts and leave us a review, follow us on Twitter at @KickassNewsPod, and take our listener survey at www.podsurvey.com/kick.
Oscar nominated actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh is the greatest living interpreter of the works of William Shakespeare, and today he talks about his life long love of Shakespeare and stepping into the shoes of his hero for his new film All Is True. Branagh discusses why he chose to focus on the three years following Shakespeare’s retirement and why he wasn’t afraid to deviate from the accepted biography and embrace the mystery around the man. He talks about teaming up with writer Ben Elton, forgoing digital graphics in favor traditional matte painting techniques, and the makeup that transformed Kenneth Branagh into the bard himself. Plus he weighs in on the rumors that the mysterious "dark lady" in Shakespeare’s love sonnets might not have been a lady at all, the sex scandals that embroiled Shakespeare's family in his final years, and speculation that William Shakespeare wasn't the real author of his famous plays.
Kenneth Branagh's film All Is True opens in New York and LA on Friday, May 10 followed by a wide release. Check your local listings for showtimes. Subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts and leave us a review, follow us on Twitter at @KickassNewsPod, and take our short listener survey at www.podsurvey.com/kick.
Jeff Bridges discusses his 6 decades in Hollywood and what he learned about acting from dad Lloyd Bridges. He recalls the "Little Rascals" version of Tucker that he and Francis Ford Coppola made prior to filming, laughing it up with Robin Williams and Terry Gilliam on the set of The Fisher King, and how he and his brother Beau tested each other in The Fabulous Baker Boys. He shares stories about making The Last Picture Show, King Kong, Heaven's Gate, The Contender, and True Grit. He talks about his Big Lebowski fandom, how he feels about being identified with his iconic character "the Dude," and why he says the Dude is a zenmaster. Then Jeff Bridges gets zen about the environment with his new documentary Living in the Future's Past. He discusses how we can take a more global approach to climate change, explains the evolutionary roots of our energy consumption, and says humans collectively form a super-organism that is exhausting resources at a faster and faster pace. He calls for the removal of politics from the climate debate and suggests how everyone can make individual changes that can have a big impact.
Keep up with Jeff at www.jeffbridges.com and be sure to catch his film Living in the Future's Past. This podcast was sponsored by Heineken and Espresso Monster. Visit Kickass News at www.kickassnews.com, subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts, and follow us on twitter at @KickassNewsPod.
John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan discuss their childhood love of the Laurel & Hardy movies, stepping into the shoes of the legendary comedy duo for their new film Stan & Ollie, and the transformation that allowed John to step in the famously large pants of Oliver Hardy. They share how Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's 35 year showbiz partnership was a lot like a marriage, what it was like for Steve and John to find that same chemistry (having never worked together before), and how their director's emergency apendactomy gave them an opportunity to bond during an impromptu pilgrimage to Stan Laurel's hometown in England. Plus John C. Reilly talks about being part of another famous comedy duo with Will Ferrell, Steve and John reveal how they recreated some of Laurel and Hardy's most iconic routines, and we debate the pros and cons of the old Hollywood studio system and the controversy over Oliver Hardy’s most memorable line.
Stan & Ollie which opens in theatres in New York and Los Angeles this Friday December 28. Visit www.sonyclassics.com/stanandollie for showtimes and more information. Today's podcast was sponsored by BetDSI.com. Subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts, visit our website at www.kickassnews.com, and follow us on twitter at @KickassNewsPod.
Paul Lieberstein (THE OFFICE) talks about his 20 year struggle with crippling back pain inspired his funny and moving directorial debut film SONG OF BACK AND NECK. He shares how the king of indie filmmaking Mark Duplass convinced him to make the movie himself rather than selling it to a Hollywood studio, how he made something as seemingly mundane as back pain visually interesting on the screen, and the complications that arise when you're directing yourself. We talk about his nine seasons playing Toby on THE OFFICE and what it was like to do double duty as actor and show runner. He reveals that NBC initially didn’t think the show would last more than a few episodes and weighs in recent talk of an OFFICE revival. Plus, he addresses how THE OFFICE’s Michael Scott might fare in the age of Me Too, whether there was more to Michael Scott’s visceral hatred for Toby, and some favorite fan theories including one that suggests that Toby was secretly the "Scranton killer."
Watch Paul Lieberstein's wonderful film SONG OF BACK AND NECK available on Video on Demand, and follow Paul on twitter at @PaulLieberstein. Today's podcast was sponsored by Espresso Monster, BetDSI.com, Zeel, and Ben Sasse's audiobook Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal. Subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts, visit our website at www.kickassnews.com, and follow us on twitter at @KickassNewsPod.
Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spiderman, The Grand Budapest Hotel) shares how his beginnings in experimental theater inform his acting, what draws him to independent films, and what it’s like to make his 100th movie. He talks about how his latest film At Eternity's Gate challenges the image of Vincent Van Gogh as a unappreciated mad genius and rethinks the constructs of the traditional biopic. He reveals what it was like to immerse himself in Van Gogh’s world and find his inspiration in the very same scenery that inspired one of the greatest artists of all time. He discusses the pressure of having to recreate iconic works art in real time and in front of the camera, and how artist/director Julian Schnabel taught him to "paint the light." Plus we talk about the time Willem Dafoe tried to summon the ghost of Houdini and the beauty of "embracing the mystery in life."
See Willem Dafoe in At Eternity's Gate opening in theaters November 16. Today's episode was sponsored by National Security Agency Career Recruitment, Homecoming on Amazon Prime Video, and Loop Jewelry. Visit Kickass News at www.kickassnews.com, subscribe to Kickass News on Apple Podcasts, and follow us on twitter at @KickassNewsPod.
The Simpsons's longest-serving writer/producer Mike Reiss celebrates the 30th anniversary of the longest running show in TV history and shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family. He talks about his early days writing for the Harvard Lampoon and why Lampoon alums make up half the writers rooms in Hollywood. He recalls working on The Tonight Show, how his only meeting with Johnny Carson was just like being a guest on his show, and a Carnac joke taught him that there’s just no science to comedy. He discusses coming on board the first episode of The Simpsons, why Fox had little faith in the first primetime cartoon since The Flintstones, and why The Simpsons became a cultural phenomenon right out of the gate. He reveals that Simpsons characters are just bad impersonations of old movie stars, how the writers add special guest roles into the script just to meet their childhood heroes, and Mike shares a few of favorite celebrity guests and some of the ones that got away. He talks about the fans' love/hate relationship with the show, some of the crazier conspiracy theories swirling around The Simpsons, and the show's complicated relationship with Seth McFarlane's Family Guy. Plus Mike Reiss tells me which countries have actually banned and even sued The Simpsons and how his own popular children's book got boycotted by the Texas Board of Education.
Order Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons on Amazon or Audible. Watch The Simpsons every Sunday night on Fox and follow Mike Reiss on Twitter at @MikeReissWriter. Today's podcast is sponsored by Michelin Premiere Tires and Dollar Shave Club.
New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff talks about the surprisingly patrician upbringing of Robin Williams, his time studying to be a serious actor at Julliard, and Robin's early influences as a comedian. Dave reveals how Star Wars helped Williams land the role of Mork the Ork, and why his shenangigans on Mork and Mindy might have landed him in hot water in the age of #MeToo. He discusses Robin’s gradual evolution as a movie star, and why Hollywood didn’t really know what to do with him at first. Dave shares how John Belushi’s overdose scared Robin Williams straight, what eventually caused him to fall back into addiction some 20 years later, and how a rare disease led to his tragic suicide. Plus Dave Itzkoff recalls his own favorite personal encounters with the comedian, and why Robin always wanted to give total strangers what he called “an authentic Robin Williams experience.”
Order Dave Itzkoff's book Robin on Amazon or Audible. Read more by Dave Itzkoff in the New York Times and follow Dave on Twitter at @ditzkoff. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah: Ears Edition, LegalShield, and Dollar Shave Club.
The cast and creator of THE DEATH OF STALIN talk about mining one of Russia’s darkest chapters for comedy and some of absurd but true stories that make into THE DEATH OF STALIN. Writer/director Armando Ianucci (VEEP, THE THICK OF IT) talks about how fighting ruthless authoritarians is a family tradition for him, why Russian officials think his movie is part of a western plot destabilize that country, and why the creator of VEEP is finally ready to give politics a break for a while.
Steve Buscemi (BOARDWALK EMPIRE, RESERVOIR DOGS, FARGO) discusses playing Nikita Kruschev in THE DEATH OF STALIN, his early career in standup comedy, how he says Stalin’s inner circle was more like The Three Stooges, and why his old AOL account is the best insurance against Russia hackers. Andrea Riseborough (BIRDMAN, OBLIVION)who portrays Svetlana Stalina talks about the illusive relationship between the ruthless dictator and his daughter and some of her favorite British comedies.
THE DEATH OF STALIN opens in theaters on Friday, March 9. For more information, visit www.DeathOfStalin.co.uk or www.ifcfilms.com. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Grasshopper, ZQuiet, Hulu's The Looming Tower, Google Cloud Platform Podcast, and the VMWare Executive Perspective Podcast.
Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers are the creators, show-runners, and executive producers of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, and today they talk about the real stories and personalities that inspired them to create the fictional series about the personal computer revolution that came out of the Texas "Silicon Prairie" in the 1980's.
We discuss the constant tug of war between the programmers and the visionaries in the tech industry and which Steve they'd rather be (Wozniak or Jobs). They hint at what we can expect in season 3 including moving the show's setting to Silicon Valley and a shift in focus from the PC boom to the birth of the internet. Plus, our collective love of dysfunctional 80's robots.
Be sure to watch the 2-hour season premiere of Halt and Catch Fire at 9PM Eastern on Tuesday (8/23) on AMC. For more information, visit www.AMC.com. You can follow Chris Cantwell on Twitter at @ifyoucantwell and Chris Rogers at @CCR.
Please subscribe to Kickass News and leave us a review. And support the show by donating at www.patreon.com/kickassnews or www.gofundme.com/kickassnews. Visit www.kickassnewspodcast.com for more fun stuff. Thanks for listening!