Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin
Summary: From WNYC Studios, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin takes listeners into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by going inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people we want to understand better: Ira Glass, Lena Dunham, David Brooks, Roz Chast, Chris Rock and others. Hear what happens when an inveterate guest becomes a host. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and many others. © WNYC Studios
Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC San Francisco, studied brain tumors in children and began to see a connection between sugar and childhood medical problems, addiction, and lethargy. According to Lustig, sugar is as addictive as cocaine, heroin and crack, and is producing the fattest, least-healthy Americans yet. Lustig tells Alec about the demise of the sugar cane industry and the subsequent explosion of a cheaper alternative: high fructose corn syrup. Even though Robert Lustig has dessert only twice per year, he confesses he still has love handles, but his mission is to educate families about how to live a healthier life. READ | Interview Transcript
David Letterman began his Late Night gig as a self-described “gap-toothed, unknown smart ass.” But thirty highly successful years later, Letterman’s comedy formula has evolved: he no longer attends all the meetings or makes all the decisions and stupid pet tricks are a thing of the past. Letterman began his television career as a weatherman, but moved rapidly up to anchorman and talk show host. He left for L.A. and, after only three years on the comedy scene there, he found himself guest-hosting the Tonight Show. He talks to Alec about how a quintuple by-pass and the birth of a child have dramatically shifted Letterman’s priorities. READ | Interview Transcript
Jon Robin Baitz is a playwright who admits that writing plays is tricky. He’s a snob for Broadway, where the cachet and laughs are bigger. But deep down, this award-winning playwright considers it a privilege to be working in American theater at all. Alec speaks to Baitz about his Broadway debut play, Other Desert Cities, that came from a place of despair and loss—and his own personal experience writing for television in Hollywood.
Renée Fleming's singing voice has been described as "double cream." She remembers being "jelly" at the end of her first rehearsal for her professional debut. In this episode, she talks about performing and the challenges of being heard, without amplification, over an orchestra, but also about the pleasure of being in the audience “where I have literally been sobbing at the end” of an opera. Music excerpts included in Here’s the Thing’s conversation with Renée Fleming (in order of appearance): “Glück, das mir verblieb (Marietta’s Lied)” from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt (Live performance from the Met’s 125th Anniversary Gala, March 15, 2009; Conductor: James Levine) “I’ll Be Seeing You” (Renée Fleming with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble/”Arranger’s Holiday” recorded Fall 1981 (archive tape courtesy Renée Fleming; special thanks to Ed Fleming) "Contessa, perdono!" from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Houston Grand Opera. Conductor; Christoph Eschenbach. 1991 “Glück, das mir verblieb (Marietta’s Lied)” from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt (Live performance from the Met’s 125th Anniversary Gala, March 15, 2009; Conductor: James Levine) “Dis-moi que je suis belle” from Massenet’s Thaïs (Live Met performance, December 20th, 2008; Conductor: Jesús López-Cobos) “Hab’ mir’s gelobt” from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (Live Met performance, January 9, 2010, with Susan Graham as Octavian and Christine Schäfer as Sophie; Conductor: Edo de Waart) “Mio caro bene” from Handel’s Rodelinda (Live Met performance, January 1, 2005; Conductor: Harry Bicket) Finale from Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (Live Met performance, March 26, 2011; Conductor: Andris Nelsons) Finale from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Live Met performance, February 12, 1994, with Dwayne Croft (Count Almaviva), Marie McLaughlin (Susanna), James Morris (Figaro), Jane Bunnell (Cherubino), François Loup (Dr. Bartolo), Judith Christin (Marcellina), Michel Sénéchal (Don Basilio), James Courtney (Antonio), and Korliss Uecker (Barbarina); Conductor: Julius Rudel) Special thanks this week to The Metropolitan Opera and the Houston Grand Opera for providing archival musical excerpts. In particular, thanks to Peter Clark, Mary Jo Heath, Brent Ness, Sam Neuman, Elena Park, and Claire Vince. And thanks to Paul Batsel at the Office of Renée Fleming.
Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, shows no restraint when unleashing criticism of presidential policies—on both sides. Of President Barack Obama’s financial-industry rescue plan, Stiglitz gives scathing remarks, saying that whomever designed it was "either in the pocket of the banks or … incompetent." Considered one of the most influential people in the world by TIME 100, Stiglitz grew up in Gary, Indiana and he talked to Alec about how that impacted his decision to become an economist.
As host of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne plays the role of ambassador to a bygone era. We hear the journey he took to get there—which could have been a classic movie itself. It all started when, as kid in a small town, he frequented the cinema and “fell in love with the movie business.” Osborne also speaks about some of challenges he faced while at The Hollywood Reporter, when he found himself writing what was really supposed to be a gossip column: “I never felt comfortable intruding upon people that wanted to keep a secret. Because I think secrets are important to have.” READ | Interview Transcript
Kristen was in college when an Acting 101 class prompted a move to L.A. She had little experience, but a tremendous gift for improv, and she soon found herself in a room auditioning for SNL. Hundreds of personas later, Wiig is regarded by SNL creator Lorne Michaels as one of the three or four greatest SNL talents ever. Kristen’s expertise translated well to film, and she eventually won an Oscar nomination for her Bridesmaids screenplay. She joins Alec to talk about the arc of her career and the steps she hopes to take next. READ | Interview Transcript
When Herb Alpert started playing trumpet with his band Tijuana Brass, Woody Allen and George Carlin were the opening acts. In 1966, The Brass outsold The Beatles. Alpert went on to co-found A&M Records, where he identified and signed some of the industries greatest talent: The Carpenters, The Police, and Cat Stevens. He and his partner sold A&M in 1989 for half a billion dollars. He says he’s looking for the same thing as everybody else—a life of purpose and meaning. READ | Interview Transcript Herb Alpert with some of his Black Totem sculptures. (Photo by Graham Howe)
Kathleen Turner’s movie star status was quickly secured after her captivating role in Body Heat. She spent the next decade as one of Hollywood’s go-to leading ladies. But the arc of Kathleen’s career was disrupted by illness. She tells Alec about living with rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that plagued her both on screen and on stage. Many of her colleagues in film fear the stage, but Kathleen Turner finds theater irresistible. READ | Interview Transcript
Dick Cavett shares some of his memories with Alec: meeting Orson Welles in the lobby of the Plaza; talking with Marlon Brando by phone—““I was told he would [call] at a certain time and we talked with the sun about 15 degrees above the horizon until well after the moon had risen;” and interviewing Laurence Olivier in the Wyndham Hotel when, Cavett says, he was feeling so depressed “I just want[ed] to go home and get under the rug.” Dick Cavett is the master of talk, a television legend; in this conversation, he shows Alec why his career has spanned nearly five decades. READ | Interview Transcript
The child sex trafficking industry is a $12-32 billion dollar a year industry. But Rob Morris wants us to consider the plight of individual children, rather than statistics. Morris is the president and co-founder of Love 146, an organization working to end child trafficking through survivor care and prevention education. Morris and Love 146 want to increase the penalties predators face, and to protect children under 18 from being criminalized for their activity. Morris considers the Internet the “new streets” when it comes to sex trafficking, and he tells Alec he is determined to make sure child exploitation is included in mainstream sex education classes. READ | Interview Transcript
Lorne Michaels had nothing to lose on October 11, 1975, when Saturday Night Live first aired. He doesn't pull all-nighters any more in preparation for the week’s show, but Michaels tells Alec he is still anxious on Saturdays at 11:30 pm. Michaels believes in the power of live performance and gives SNL hosts the best bits. But aside from the funniest lines, the irreverent Michaels offers little protection. Alec is no exception. READ | Interview Transcript
Documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger went to Arkansas to investigate a brutal triple murder. He thought there was a trend in youth violence; what he found were three wrongfully incarcerated teenagers. Berlinger’s quest to advocate for the West Memphis Three took 18 years and three films. Alec spoke with Joe about the emotional toil of making his Paradise Lost documentaries, especially as his own children were coming into the world. READ | Interview Transcript
Alec sat down with Erica Jong, author of the 1970s best-seller, Fear Of Flying, and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast. Erica talks candidly about coping with three divorces, and tells Alec she is certain her current marriage will be her last. Meanwhile, daughter Molly had no idea her mom wrote so-called “dirty” books. She does recall her mom being consumed by work and travel, but concludes that her mother’s legacy is about being honest. READ | Interview Transcript
The first time acclaimed director Stephen Daldry was expected to shout “Action!” he thought it was a joke. Alec met with Stephen Daldry in 2011, weeks before his intimate, post-9/11 drama, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, opened. Daldry’s work is precise and intimate, but in conversation with Alec he was passionate about a wide variety of topics, including communal living, the virtues of mass transit, and the Olympics. READ | Interview Transcript