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Kickass News

Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/kickassnews. Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit www.kickassnews.com. Thanks for listening!
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Now displaying: December, 2020
Dec 31, 2020

After eight years as a comedy writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Bess Kalb recently wrote and produced a new comedy special that "eulogizes" the year 2020.  Yearly Departed is available on Amazon Prime Video beginning 12/30.  Bess comes on the podcast to talk about her own trials and tribulations over the past year, including a recent Covid-scare at the pediatrician, how she finds catharsis through laughter, and how that inspired her to bid adieu to 2020 with a rollicking roast-style memorial service. She reveals some of the big comedians she attracted to the special, some of the things they sarcastically eulogize, and how they managed orchestrate an entirely social distanced production. Bess shares stories from her years in the Kimmel writing room, including being the interviewer for Jimmy’s "Lie Witness News" segments and coming up with the classic "Baby Bachelor" sketch.  Plus she talks about writing jokes for Hillary Clinton, working as an undercover speech-writer at the Democratic National Convention, and perhaps her proudest moment...getting blocked by Donald Trump on Twitter!

Bess's special Yearly Departed is now available on Amazon Prime Video.  I also highly recommend her book Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told to Me) Story.  You can follow Bess at besskalb.com and on Twitter at @BessBell.

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Dec 28, 2020

Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) shares his excitement for his first time co-hosting a New Years Eve special and how he’s looking forward to relentlessly roasting his pal Ken Jeong for a full three and half hours on Fox’s New Year’s Roast & Toast 2021.  Joel reveals why he and Ken just can’t quit each other and the origins of their recent pandemic themed podcast The Darkest Timeline.  We also discuss how Netflix has breathed new life into Joel and Ken’s series Community, what it was like to work with that comedic genius Dan Harmon on the show, and the status of the long talked about Community movie.  Joel recalls juggling making Community at the same time as his other series The Soup, how that show took off with the rise of social media and reality TV,  and the one daytime talk show that refused to let The Soup use its clips.  Then he teases some of the musical guests on Fox’s New Year’s Roast & Toast and attempts to explain the concept behind Fox’s new show The Masked Dancer.

Don’t miss Fox’s New Year’s Roast & Toast 2021 on December 31st at 8/7c only on Fox and follow Joel on Twitter at @JoelMcHale.

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Dec 24, 2020

Loudon Wainwright III is best known as a folk singer and songwriter, but now he is lending his unique interpretation to the music of the great American songbook on a new album that he recorded with big band bandleader Vince Giordano and his Nighthawk Orchestra.  They talk about their deep affection for the music of composers like Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hart and some of their favorite tracks  from their album I’d Rather Lead a Band.  Loudon recalls fond memories of his father playing these songs on the family record player when he was boy, and Vince remembers the legendary jazz arranger who inspired his lifelong passion for keeping this this music alive.  They reveal what they are doing to keep busy now that the pandemic has prevented them from touring and performing and how they find solace and a few laughs during these troubled times in the hopeful music of the Great Depression and the bawdy lyrics of a rather tragic ukulele player who became the voice of Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket.

Download or order Loudon Wainwright III and Vince Giordano's wonderful album I'd Rather Lead a Band on iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon.  Keep up with Loudon at lw3.com and follow Vince at vincegiordano.com

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Dec 21, 2020

Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank and filmmaker Deon Taylor talk about their new film Fatale and their love of classic film noir directors from Alfred Hitchcock to Brian Depalma.
Hilary explains what drew her to finally play an antagonist on screen and how she found a way into that character that strikes right at the heart of worst fears and most basic instincts.  Plus we talk about expanding the range of female villains beyond shallow "psycho woman" roles and the social responsibility of depicting police violence against a black man on film in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fatale opens in theaters on Friday, Deceember 18.  For showtimes and more information, visit www.fatale.movie.com.

 

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Dec 17, 2020

Bestselling author, professor, and leading public intellectual Dr. Michael Eric Dyson talks about his decision to address race in America through a series of letters to black martyrs, why we all know the name George Flloyd, but we might not know the name Elijah McClain, and how he’s seeking to educate white people about the centuries violence against blacks that have led up to this moment in his new book Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America.  He explains the origins of what he calls the black political economy of the night, how it ties into modern-day looting and rioting, and what is really meant by the rallying cry to defund the police.  He says cancel culture has an insidious effect of fracturing black unity, and calls on white folks to back up their holy hashtags and black squares on Instagram with real action.  Plus he expresses his dismay that a large part of white America failed to reject Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies in the 2016 election, his faith that President-elect Joe Biden will follow through on his promise to black voters, and why he still remains ever hopeful for a better future.

Order Dr. Dyson's book Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold, and follow him on Twitter at @MichaelEDyson.

 

 

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Dec 14, 2020

Jon Hamm talks about making his first trip to Ireland for his new movie Wild Mountain Thyme, filming in the ancestral hometown of President-elect Joe Biden, and why he was blissfully relieved that he didn’t have to attempt an Irish accent.  Jon recalls his childhood growing up in St. Louis, the unusual side job he had when he was starting out as a struggling actor, and the deadline he gave himself to make it in Hollywood.  Jon discusses the lengthy audition process for the role that made him famous on AMC’s Mad Men, the hardest part about hosting Saturday Night Live, and his plans for an upcoming reboot of the classic Fletch franchise.

Wild Mountain Thyme is out in theaters and Video-on-Demand starting Friday, December 11.  

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Dec 10, 2020

In his more than 50 years in music, drummer John Densmore has played with and gotten to know some of the greatest musicians of our time, from Janis Joplin and Paul Simon to Ravi Shankar and Willie Nelson, as well as some inspiring non-musicians from the Dalai Lama to screenwriter Joseph Campbell.  He has managed to learn something from many of those interactions - lessons he writes about in his new book THE SEEKERS: MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MUSICIANS (AND OTHER ARTISTS).  John Densmore discusses the many musical influences on The Doors, what he thought the first time he met Jim Morrison, and how Morrison’s tragic self-destruction served as a cautionary tale that kept John Densmore straight the rest of his life.  We talk about Oliver Stone's movie about The Doors, the tense legal battle between John and his bandmates over the commercial use of The Doors songs, and how he made peace with Doors’ Ray Manzarek just before his death in 2013.  John goes into the importance of space and silence in music, the power of improvisation to take him to a higher place, and the person whose drumming style he most emulates to this day.  Plus we talk about his friendship with classical conductor Gustavo Dudamel, jamming with Rock n' Roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis, and smoking weed with Willie!

Order John Densmore's book THE SEEKERS: MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MUSICIANS AND OTHER ARTISTS on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold.  Follow John on Twitter at @JohnDensmore or at www.johndensmore.com.

 

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Dec 7, 2020

Acclaimed actor, writer, and theatre director André Gregory joins me on the show to talk about his unusual life from his Jewish father’s possible collaboration with the Nazis and his mom’s affair with Errol Flynn to the 14 year rehearsal for his production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder and the time the local Sheriff escorted him out of his own repertory theatre and dumped him across the state line in the middle of nowhere.  We get into his longtime collaboration with actor/writer Wallace Shawn, how their conversations lead to the iconic film My Dinner with André, and whether they’ve ever considered a sequel.  Plus we discuss how that movie presaged the chaos of the Trump era, how his production of a play that would never open became the hottest ticket on Broadway, and why he and Wally Shawn will soon bring their talents to podcasting.

Order André Gregory's new book This Is Not My Memoir on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.

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Dec 3, 2020

In 2019, Chef Magnus Nilsson closed Fäviken, his one-of-a-kind Michelin-starred restaurant in remote Sweden at the peak of its success.  He shares how Fäviken became one of the top restaurants in the world, how the industry it was a part of has changed, and why he eventually elected to pursue new projects.  He talks about his reliance on fresh local seasonal ingredients, the difference between great produce and "exceptional produce," and why he’d rather eat an exceptional carrot than imported kobe beef or truffles any day.  He speaks frankly about the lack of originality among chefs, how food bloggers, Instagram, and even diners are ruining the dining experience, and what he calls the hypocrisy of sustainability in the restaurant business.  Plus he talks about his new life as an educator and apple farmer and whether he thinks he will ever open another restaurant. 

Order Magnus Nilsson's new book Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  Follow him on Twitter at @Faviken.

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