Episodes
Russ Tamblyn was born in Los Angeles in the middle of the Depression to a chorus girl and a Broadway "song and dance man."  His father had moved his growing family west to press his luck in the talkies.  Russ was a showbiz kid and found his talent young:  Cecil B DeMille cast him as the young King Saul in Samson and Delilah when he was just 13 years old.  Stardom came at 19 in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where he stole scenes with his goofy enthusiasm and astonishingly acrobatic...
Published 02/11/20
This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- and, today, with a pair of 2020 nominees.  They are Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, the co-directors of For Sama, which is up for Best Documentary Feature.  It's a movie pieced together from more than 500 hours of footage shot by Al-Kateab, a young mother in rebel-controlled Aleppo, Syria, as government troops closed in.  For Sama is about what it's like for an...
Published 02/07/20
This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview, coming tomorrow, with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  Today, on Day 4 of our Oscars series, it's our live event with Spike Lee at the TriBeCa Film Festival.  The two movie-veterans came prepared for a serious discussion about Place in the Sun and On the Waterfront, but get distracted very quickly. ...
Published 02/06/20
This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama, coming Friday.  For Day 3 of our series, we bring you our Julianne Moore episode, in which she and Alec bond over their shared past in soap operas.  Moore won her Oscar in 2015 for playing an Alzheimer's patient in Still Alice.
Published 02/05/20
This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  For our second installment, we bring you the Here's the Thing episode that may have generated our most enthusiastic listener feedback.  That's Alec's conversation with director, screenwriter, and Rolling Stone journalist Cameron Crowe -- punctuated with great songs from...
Published 02/04/20
This week, in honor of the upcoming Academy awards, Here's the Thing brings you a collection of conversations with Oscar-winners -- including one new interview coming Wednesday with the creative team of 2020 Best Documentary-nominee For Sama.  We begin, however, with a reprise of one of the HTT team's all-time favorite episodes, in which Alec enjoys a little miso soup at the home of Barbra Streisand in Malibu.  Streisand has won two Oscars:  first in 1969 for her turn as Fanny Brice in Funny...
Published 02/03/20
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.  For five months -- perpetually in danger of losing the scoop -- they cultivated and cajoled sources ranging from the Weinsteins’ accountant to Ashley Judd.  The article that emerged on October 5th, 2017, was a level-headed and impeccably sourced exposé, whose effects continue to be felt around the world.  Their conversation with Alec covers their reporting process, and moves on to a joint...
Published 01/21/20
Wynton Marsalis was on the cover of Time as the avatar of the "New Jazz Age."  His central role in reviving the genre is thanks partly to his gorgeous, virtuosic trumpet-playing, and partly to his founding of Jazz at Lincoln Center.  JALC established jazz at the heart of American high culture.  That "officialness" turned off some jazz musicians: wasn't their music supposed to be looser, smaller?  But Marsalis tells Alec that the desire to relegate jazz to small underground clubs is...
Published 01/07/20
We often think of Julie Andrews as the prim nanny from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, but her personal path may have the greatest resemblance to one of her Broadway roles: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Andrews grew up in a family strapped for cash during the Second World War, and her initial training as an actor was in the less-than-prestigious field of vaudeville. But right before opening night of her breakout role in The Boy Friend, it was producer Cy Feuer’s advice that we have to...
Published 12/24/19
Director Noah Baumbach is known for messy and realistic family dramas. The Squid and The Whale chronicles divorce within a family; Margot at the Wedding explores the relationship between two sisters; The Meyerowitz Stories tells the story of 3 adult siblings – different mothers, same father – negotiating resentment and love. And there have been plenty of comparisons between Baumbach’s own life and his movies – especially so with his most recent film, Marriage Story. Baumbach and actress...
Published 12/10/19
The last Democrat elected to the Senate seat Cristina Tzintzun has her sights on was Lyndon Johnson.  Republican takeovers are just a fact of life in the South.  And yet in some places, there's light at the end of the tunnel for beleaguered Dems.  It's in the Lone Star State that they hope to reverse the trend.  Texas is urbanizing, and it's getting more educated and more diverse.  Tzintzun -- a political organizer who's the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and an Anglo-Texan -- tells Alec...
Published 11/26/19
Alec wanted to know a few more things about Errol Morris's work -- so he set up a call!
Published 11/22/19
Errol Morris’s documentaries are visually unmistakable, whether they’re about pet cemeteries or the morally bankrupt "great men" of American history.  Thanks to his optical invention, the "Interrotron," Morris's subjects’ are looking straight at those of us in the movie theater and, sometimes, lying.  He’s one of cinema’s most distinctive storytellers.  In conversation with Alec, Morris recounts his meandering path to the top, involving deep debt, a master's degree in Philosophy, and a stint...
Published 11/12/19
Edward Norton gets into every aspect of filmmaking, even when he comes to the set as an actor.  He's helped rewrite scripts, and sometimes gets intimately involved in editing, as was the case with American History X.  That has led to tension with directors, but Norton tells Alec that the Hollywood press has grossly mischaracterized many of those relationships.  Norton himself directed Alec recently in his new film, Motherless Brooklyn.  Norton stars alongside Alec's Robert Moses character,...
Published 10/29/19
Judith Light has an unequaled emotional and tonal range as an actor.  She also has a shape-shifting physicality that made her entirely convincing both as the shuffling yenta Shelly Pfefferman in Transparent and as the lithe, aristocratic Hedda Gabler.  But she only got to exercise those talents by saying "yes" to a lot of less intricate roles -- most famously the housewife-prostitute Karen Wolek on One Life to Live and Type-A divorcée Angela Bower on Who's the Boss.  Her manager (a former...
Published 10/15/19
Peter Bergman is the dean of soap opera actors.  His portrayal of Dr. Cliff Warner on All My Children from 1979 to 1989 overlapped precisely with the era when soap operas were America's great guilty pleasure.  Liz Taylor made cameos alongside Bergman, mainstream publications covered Dr. Warner's many marriages, and the soaps sometimes rivaled prime time in total viewers.  Madison Avenue noticed, and Bergman entered the pitchman pantheon with his cough syrup ad in 1986, "I'm not a doctor, but...
Published 10/01/19
Dubbed “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” by The New York Times, pianist Lang Lang has reached a level of stardom rare for classical musicians.  But his prominence is hard-won.  Alec, who adores Lang Lang's charisma and talent, elicits from his guest stories of hardship during his childhood in northeastern China, and of his slow climb to the top, via Philadelphia.  That's where fish-out-of-water Lang Lang showed up at the age of 15 and enrolled in public high school as well as...
Published 09/17/19
At the end of the 1950s, James Caan, son of a German-Jewish butcher, had been kicked out of ROTC and was too poor to finish college on his own. He started a job for his godfather unpacking meat along the docks of the Hudson River. Less than a decade later, he was starring alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in El Dorado, just a few years from Coppola's giving him a lead in The Godfather. In his unmistakable Queens patois, Caan tells Alec the wonderful, unlikely story of his rise to...
Published 09/03/19
Since 2004, 1300 towns across America have lost local newspaper coverage.  2004 was also the first full year David Rattray, the third generation of his family to own the East Hampton Star, served as the paper's editor.  It's a job for which Rattray gave up a very different life and career in New York City.  That was a good choice:  thanks in part to his stewardship, the Star thrives.  It covers East Hampton's seasonal transformation into the center of an elite New York social universe, but...
Published 08/27/19
The Reverend Donna Schaper of New York's Judson Memorial Church leads her flock of 300 through life's sacraments like any pastor.  But she has a national profile, too, appearing in print and on television to reject the idea that Christian values necessarily lead to conservative politics.  She tells Alec her story of spiritual awakening, from an abusive working-class home, to parting ways from the Lutheran Church of her childhood, all the way to Judson Memorial Church, a Christian outpost in...
Published 08/20/19
Alec Baldwin and Matthew Landfield crossed paths one time before their Here's the Thing interview.  In early 2001, Alec was shooting a movie in front of 31 Desbrosses Street in New York's Tribeca neighborhood.  Matthew had grown up in the building in the 1980s, raised by a performance-artist mom and modernist-painter father.  Matthew and Alec said hello as Matthew walked in to visit his parents.  The bohemian scene on the block stuck with Alec over the years -- so much so that when in 2015 he...
Published 08/13/19
Six years ago the Board of the Manhattan School of Music faced a daunting decision: who would guide the school into its second century?  They turned to someone with a long history with the school, James Gandre.  Gandre joined MSM as an administrative assistant in the mid-1980s and rose through the ranks.  But before then, he'd been auditioning for gigs as a tenor with symphonies and choirs.  He continued to do so even after he began in administration.  He tells Alec about his journey from...
Published 08/06/19
Brian Lehrer is a unique figure in the public life of New York City.  Beyond hosting the city's defining daily talk show, he's our conscience and our conciliator.  When New Yorkers want a fair mayoral debate, they often call Brian.  When WNYC needed someone to help us process our own #metoo moment, we called Brian.  The Peabody Awards honored The Brian Lehrer Show for "reuniting the estranged terms 'civil' and 'discourse.'"  Of course, civil doesn't mean soft:  he can be unsparing in his...
Published 07/23/19
Alexander Acosta has resigned from his position as Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration.  That's because of the sweetheart deal he cut politically connected financier Jeffrey Epstein back in 2008, when Acosta was a federal prosecutor.  In the swirl of news following Epstein's re-arrest, but before the Acosta resignation, Julie Brown stepped out of Acosta's press conference to speak to Alec on the phone.  We learn her reaction and that of Epstein's victims who called her up after the...
Published 07/12/19
Corey Johnson wants to be the next mayor of New York, and the press seems to think he will be.  His plan to fix transit is the centerpiece of his platform.  Tom Wright is the CEO of the powerful Regional Plan Association.  That organization imagines the future and comes up with ideas for infrastructure and bureaucracy that could meet its needs.  Nicole Gelinas, a reporter and a Manhattan Institute scholar of Urban Economics, also believes in big, innovative projects.  But for the past 15...
Published 07/09/19