Comedy writer Alan Zweibel starting his career selling jokes for seven dollars apiece to the last of the Borscht Belt standups, some of the old comedians who are still using the same material that he wrote for them 40 years ago, and his very first manager, who served as the inspiration for Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose. He recalls his early attempt at performing, carpooling to clubs with a young Billy Crystal, and the night he bombed on stage but caught the attention of Lorne Michaels. He his shares his memories of being one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, his special relationship with the late Gilda Radner, and some of his creative battles with the network censors at NBC. Alan also discusses the genius of Garry Shandling, the delights and difficulties of working with him on the groundbreaking It’s Garry Shandling's Show, and what it’s like to be in Larry David’s world on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Plus the comedian who paid him by the pound, the infamous night when Milton Berle hosted Saturday Night Live, and the charity auction that went horribly wrong (and then inspired Alan’s next movie).
Order Alan Zweibel's terrific memoir Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Follow Alan on Twitter at @AlanZweibel or at www.alanzweibel.com, and look for his new movie Here Today starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish coming out this Fall. Today's episode was sponsored by Demand Justice. Visit www.demandjustice.org/kick to learn more and support voting rights in 2020.
Wagner Moura discusses how his first career as a journalist informs his acting, what it was like to play ruthless drug lord Pablo Escobar on Netflix’s Narcos, and how he gained (and then lost) all of that weight for the role. He talks about his fascination with the late UN diplomat Sergio de Mello, playing him in the new film Sergio, and how Iraq might have turned out very differently if de Mello had lived to complete his mission there. He says working with war correspondent and documentary filmmaker Greg Barker added extra authenticity to Sergio, he reveals that they even used real-life refugees as extras on the film, and he suggests that the political leaders who are now dealing with the Coronavirus could learn from Sergio de Mello's example.
Nathan Lane talks about why his fans always think he’s Jewish, how his older brother inspired him to get into acting, and some of roles he’s played on Broadway in shows like from Guys and Dolls to The Producers. He laments the that the Coronavirus could have a lasting impact on the theatre, but says that he is hoping to soon realize his lifelong dream of starring in Death of a Salesman on Broadway. He discusses starring in the return of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, how the new season transports the show from Victorian London to California on the cusp of World War II, and what it was like to finally star in something where he gets an actual stunt double. He reveals his love for the noir detective fiction of Raymond Chandler, how Penny Dreadful exposes the social tensions simmering under the surface of 1930s LA, and how his character was partly inspired by a real attorney turned Nazi hunter. Plus Nathan remembers the late playwright Terrence McNally, George C. Scott as Noel Coward, and the grueling experience of starring with 80s TV magician Doug Henning in the notorious Broadway musical flop Merlin.
See Nathan Lane in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels premiering this Sunday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. Visit www.showtime.com for more information. Today's episode is sponsored by Demand Justice. Visit www.demandjustice.org/kick to join the fight to protect voting rights.
Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry talk about their new film Bad Therapy, and how the filmmaker's own nightmare experience with a couples counselor inspired the movie. Alicia shares memories from Clueless, and stories from working with playwright David Mamet and the late Peter O’Toole. Rob talks about his original audition for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, some of the low-budget, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants field pieces that he did in the early days of the show, and why he always gets cast as creepy assholes and pedophiles!
See Rob and Alicia's new film Bad Therapy on Video on Demand, and follow them on Twitter at @AliciaSilv and @robcorddry.
Comedian Dan Whitney talks about the origins of his popular character "Larry the Cable Guy," his education in southern redneck culture while going to college in Florida, and how Larry went from being a bit he did on talk radio shows to a wildly popular stage act. He shares some of his comedic inspirations, how he tests out new jokes on Twitter, and what he does when people on social media don’t like his politics. He also discusses what touring with his pal Jeff Foxworthy and his unlikely friendship with comedian Lewis Black. Plus "Larry the Cable Guy" weighs in on the sketchy crowd at Walmart after midnight, his love/hate relationship with the county fair, and how he is surviving the Coronavirus quarantine.
His new comedy special LARRY THE CABLE GUY: REMAIN SEATED is now available through Comedy Dynamics Network on Comcast, Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Apple TV, Dish, Google Play, DirecTV, Vimeo, YouTube, and other streaming platforms. You can also listen to the album on SirusXM, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Sound Cloud, and more. Visit www.larrythecableguy.com and follow him on twitter at @GitRDoneLarry.
Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee is a Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling author and a doctor at the forefront of cancer and genetic research. He talks about a new two-part documentary that he and Ken Burns produced for PBS titled The Gene: An Intimate History. He discusses the fascinating history of the genetic research and those scientists who have worked to understand heredity. He shares how the eugenics movement set legitimate genetic research back in the early 20th Century and why, even today, the specter of eugenics still looms large as scientists ponder the possibility of gene editing and designer babies. Dr. Murkergee talks about how an unlikely public/private partnership accomplished the monumental task of sequencing the entire human genome and how modern day gene hunters are using that information to potentially treat some of the world’s rarest and most debilitating diseases. He also revels how that same research could be applied to treating and even curing major diseases like cancer and how genetic science is currently playing a vital role in the fight against the Coronavirus.
Part 2 of The Gene: An Intimate History airs Tuesday 4/14 on PBS. You can also stream Part 1 and 2 on www.PBS.org and other PBS streaming platforms. Visit Siddhartha Mukherjee at www.siddharthamukherjee.com and follow him on Twitter at @DrSidMukherjee.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler discusses how his own battle to control his weight helped inspire him to write a book about the health dangers of processed foods. He explains the difference between how our bodies digest fast carbs and slow carbs and why fad diets that cut out carbs all together might not be such a good idea. David outlines the long list of diseases that can be traced to heavy consumption of processed foods, some of the tricks that the food industry employs to mislead consumers about what is in many processed foods, and he suggests some changes that he would like to make to the nutritional labels that he helped create when he was head of the FDA under Presidents Bush and Clinton. He also expresses his concern over America's heavy reliance on processed junk foods at a time when fresh meats and produce are in short supply, he shares what he is saying to former Vice-President Joe Biden as a member of the Biden campaign's Coronavirus advisory committee, and he gives his own practical health recommendations for keeping your family safe from COVID-19.
Order Dr. David Kessler's book Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs: The Simple Truth About Food, Weight, and Disease on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Follow Dr. Kessler on Twitter at @DavidKesslerMD.
Actor Vincent Cassel (Ocean's 12, Black Swan, Jason Bourne) talks about joining the cast of one of his favorite TV series Westworld, playing a reclusive billionaire with a dark view of humanity, and how his character attempts to make order out of chaos. Vincent discusses how Westworld Season 3 deals with the very real problem of big data (and who controls it) and says that it has inspired him to be a lot more careful about the information that he shares on his devices. He also reminisces about the career of his father, famous french actor Jean-Pierre Cassel, and how Gene Kelly discovered his dad on the movie An American in Paris. He recalls being heavily influenced by Hollywood films as a kid, learning to tap dance from Broadway legend Michael Bennett, and why he originally tried to join the circus before getting into acting. Vincent reveals how he persuaded director Steven Soderbergh to let him do his own stunts in Ocean's 12, how an acting teacher inspired his role as the controlling choreographer in Black Swan, and why this Frenchman always seems to get cast as a Russian.
Actor Tom Pelphrey talks about playing Laura Linney's brother in Season 3 of Ozark and what it’s like to work with Jason Bateman as a director. He also discusses his upcoming role as legendary Hollywood director Joseph Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s film Mank. He recalls his early days working on the soap operas Guiding Light and As the World Turns, keeping up with the grueling production schedule of daytime television, and how it requires an actor to memorize fast and think on their feet. He discusses the learning curve involved with switching from soaps to film and primetime television, his popular roles on the hit series Banshee and Iron Fist, and whether Marvel fans or soap-opera fans are the most obsessive.
Season 3 of Ozark is streaming now on Netflix. Look for Mank coming out on Netflix this fall and follow Tom on Twitter at @Tom Pelphrey. Today's episode was sponsored by the podcast Afternoon Cyber Tea with Anne Johnson.