This is the telephone recording of my May 1983 interview with Johnny Van Zant, who was then leader of his own Johnny Van Zant Band and today has stepped in to be the frontman of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the classic rock band created by his late brother Ronnie Van Zant. (Brother Donnie Van Zant is best known for his band, .348 Special.)
My guest today is Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman and a humor columnist and cartoonist. But first, I’d like to set the tone for this interview by reading from a poem that Bob found on a needlepoint throw pillow sold at a garage sale:
I knew there was something missing in my life since it became Facebook-, Twitter-, Orkut- Bebo- and instant messaging-centric, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what. Turns out, it’s people! You know, real life, high-fiving, handshaking, backslapping, refrigerator-raiding friends, neighbors and family. Jeanne Martinet, the author of The Art of Mingling, just published a new book, Life Is Friends. I suspect it will become one of those gems that is found on everyone’s bookshelf—or e-book reader—in the future. It’s a lively read and full of great anecdote advice.
This is gonna take a minute. It was the last day of our first family vacation in two years and the three of us were unwinding in the enormous Barnes & Noble bookstore in Burlington, Vermont. My 13-year-old son Charlie found two young adult novels she wanted to buy, both of which his friends had already read and enjoyed. The first was The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, which looked like it was cast in the mode of the Harry Potter books, a series that Charlie has read over and over and over. The second was a dark and somewhat frightening looking book titled Wake by Lisa McMann. It’s subtitle: “Your dreams are not your own.” I was dubious; my kid finds the sight of blood unsettling and isn’t a fan of violence or gore. But it was technically age-appropriate and it meant reading something other than texts on his phone, so okay.
LISA McMANN audio excerpt: "When I finished writing Wake, I almost immediately started writing Fade. I know that wasn't necessarily smart. But I felt like the story wasn't finished, so I wanted to write it for me. Then I thought, 'There could be more.'"
He loved both books and consumed them in the next two days. Back home, a few days later, he came over to my desk, holding Wake and asked, “What’s your agent’s name?” “Michael Bourret,” I said. With a triumphant look in his eye, he pushed Wake in front of me, open to the Acknowledgements page. I read it and smiled: “Warmest gratitude to my fantastic agent, Michael Bourret, who believed in Janie and me…” Small world. This week, Gone, the third and final book in the Wake trilogy, completing the adventures of teenage dream catcher Janie Hannagan, hits the shelves of bookstores everywhere. It’s quite a wild ride.
Amin Matalqa made a movie after being challenged by David Pritchard, an executive producer for “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.” There’s much more to the story than that, of course, but let me just add a few choice hints. Pritchard told the Jordanian writer and director to make it a comedy, something in which Charlie Chaplin would have wanted to star. And you know what? That’s exactly the film that Captain Abu Raed is. And watch for it in your city; Captain Abu Raed will be in limited, but expanding release across the United States this summer.
(2008) Donal Logue joins the cast of the NBC drama series “Life” this fall. He plays the character of Capt. Kevin Tidwell. My guess is that many of you know Donal than may know “Life.” He starred in a traditional sitcom on Fox, “Grounded For Life” and a non-traditional sitcom, “The Knights of Prosperity,” on ABC. My guess is that NBC is counting on Donal to add a new dimension of familiarity to “Life,” which built a rabid, if small, fan base in its first season and hopes to improve upon it this year. It airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
Guys, see if you know where I’m going with this. There’s a point in the male maturation process where you think “Moms are old. Who would be attracted to somebody’s Mom?” One day, you become a dad and suddenly there is nothing hotter than somebody else’s Mom.
PATRICIA RICHARDSON AUDIO EXCERPT: "And I look exactly the same! I'm not aging at all!"
Which brings us to Jill Taylor, the long suffering, beleaguered TV wife of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor on ABC’s long-running sitcom, “Home Improvement.” How could you not find her sexy? She was funny, flirtatious, handled any crap thrown at her and was forever playing hard to get. Anyway, Patricia Richardson, who played Jill—and earned four Emmy nominations for her work—joins us today to talk about her the latest assignment, “The Jensen Project,” airing tonight on NBC at 8 p.m.
Who would have ever guessed that the art of the deal--the essence of how business gets done in America--would make compelling television?
If you don't like the genre of reality business competition on TV, blame Mark Burnett, the creator of Survivor and The Apprentice. If you like these shows, give some credit to Donald Trump, who brought the force—and cult—of his personality to The Apprentice and made America care about the craft and underhanded nature of some business leaders. And don't forget the late Billy Mays, and his partner Sully Sullivan, who starred in Pitchmen. But now it is Daymond John's turn. He's one of the hugely successful business leaders putting chum in ABC's Shark Tank, which airs its season finale on Tuesday, October 20 at 8 p.m.
DAYMOND JOHN podcast excerpt: "It's win Daymond John's money and time. I'm not going to just throw money at the deal. I'm going to help the entrepreneur... I've made about five deals (on Shark Tank). So far, on the line, (I've invested) up to $700,000."
Daymond John made his fortune as the entrepreneur who founded the FUBU apparel label. If you haven't worn his stylin' clothes, you either know someone who does or you've them on someone, somewhere. I know what FUBAR stands for, but what does FUBU mean? I'm going to have to ask. John is also the author of a book, Display of Power: How FUBU Changed a World of Fashion, Branding and Lifestyle.
You know you’re in for a fun read when the author opens his book by quoting both Nolan Bushnell—the creator of the “Pong” videogame and “Chuck E. Cheese” Pizza restaurants—and Jay-Z. And Daymond John does not disappoint after that.
DAYMOND JOHN podcast excerpt: "I think that the Tiger Woods brand was built on one thing—the best golf game in the world. If we look at two other brands that faced a lot of criticism—Muhammad Ali, at a turbulent time in our country, and Kobe Bryant, not only accused of infidelity but accused of a crime at the same time—when they came back and became the brands that they always were, the best boxer in the world and the best basketball player in the world, their endorsements and legacies topped where they were at the time of crisis. If Tiger stays true to what he does, playing the great game of golf, he's going to be back."
The founder of FUBU The Collection and host of ABC’s “Shark Tank” writes like he talks—straight-forward, down-to-earth, no bull. But don’t take my word for it—pick up his new book, The Brand Within: The Power of Branding from Birth to the Boardroom, and see for yourself. This is John’s second book—and his second time on Mr. Media Radio.
Aziz Ansari, who starred in both NBC’s “Parks & Recreation” and ABC’s “Scrubs” was just in Montreal for the annual Just For Laughs Comedy and Film Festival. He went there to promote his new movie, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen and he also performed there as a stand-up. But was he Aziz—or Randy, his character from “Funny People”? Here’s a clip of Randy—and this where, if you have delicate ears, I recommend you switch over to Dr. Blogstein or Olivia Wilder. Because from this point on, this is adults-only radio. Are they gone? Great. If you’d like to hear more of Randy, go to his website, LaughYourDickOff.com. And this fall he’ll be back opposite Amy Poehler in the second season of the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of Star Trek geeks who might not have gotten a life when William Shatner told them to but who would have bathed and even used soap if Jeri Ryan had asked… in the new new media capitol of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
Dear listener, this interview is so not about you. I’ve got the next ten minutes to talk – flirt – with Jeri Ryan. Put yourself in my shoes – don’t – who would you be thinking about? Me or you? – Me. – Jeri Ryan was sent to us from the stars – okay the Borg – 15 years ago. But that first sight of the former Miss Illinois in a skintight suit is as fresh today as it was the moment she first entered the bridge of "Star Trek Voyager." As George “Sulu” Takei might say, “Oh, my.”
JERI RYAN audio excerpt: "It's kind of cool (being Star Trek's Seven of Nine). But being in Mortal Kombat is infinitely more cool. It ups my cred with my teenage son's friends about ten-fold."
This Northwestern grad’s presence gave a franchise that was teetering many more years on the outer edges of the universe – well, somewhere. I never quite grasped that part. And ever since then, TV producers everywhere have turned to her for a little Jeri Ryan magic. Voyager’s engines were barely cold before she joined “Boston Public” for three seasons. She co-starred opposite James Woods on “Shark” and even did a couple episodes of “Two and a Half Men” with Charlie Sheen Winning! – indeed. Now this stunning woman and skilled actress is co-starring as Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kate Murphy opposite Dana Delany on the new ABC series “Body of Proof,” which airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. She’s also signed on to reprise her role as Lieutenant Sonya Blade short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth to appear in the just released digital new media series Mortal Kombat-- an anthology of multiple live action shorts available online.
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Judge Robert L. Wilkins by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience full of determined African American men and women – and their ancestors – who won’t take no for an answer… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
First clear giveaway that I’m a white guy: I didn’t even know there was a National Museum of African American History and Culture in the works until the year it opened—2016. I thought it was and is a great idea, long overdue, but I honestly had never heard a word about it. Once I did, however, I was like a lot of people who thought, “What took us so damn long to get around to it?” And now that I’ve read Judge Robert L. Wilkins’ new book, Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I have a pretty good idea why it took so long and why a lot of well-intended folks like me knew nothing about it before it was literally right in front of our noses.
JUDGE ROBERT L. WILKINS podcast excerpt: "I grew up feeling that I was a little bit less- than my white counterparts. Learning about African American history over the years was, for me, a way to affirm my sense of self and to help improve my self-esteem. But also to appreciate the opportunities that I had, that people had literally fought, bled and died for to get me a good education and have equal opportunities to compete for the best jobs."
Judge Wilkins compresses a century of Black frustration into about 150 politically charged pages of history. I’m curious to find out how he can even discuss it without screaming, but that’s why he’s a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A Harvard Law grad doesn’t rise to this level without learning how to stay composed and restrained, even in the face of ridiculous obstruction and political nonsense. Judge Wilkins, by the way, served as chairman of the site and building committee of the Presidential Commission that Congress finally established to plan the museum. Incidentally, we will not be discussing current political issues, in case you were wondering.
JUDGE ROBERT L. WILKINS podcast excerpt: "The sense that I have is that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney felt it was the right thing to do. This had been in the works for decades. They believed this was something that could help the country learn from its mistakes in history. And that it could help unify the country."
• 7:35 Federal judge Robert L. Wilkins talks about the personal reasons that he devote nearly two decades of his life to carry the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the finish line after starts and stops for the previous 80 years;
• 23:45 Wilkins talks about the Four Musketeers of Congress that formed an unlikely coalition to push museum funding through the House and Senate;
• 29:56 Two of the most surprising champions of the National Museum of African American History and Culture were President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. No kidding.
(2007) Blender. Newsweek. TV Guide. Forbes. Playboy. Mac World. Entertainment Weekly. Wizard. Business 2.0. Esquire. These are the magazines I read as soon as they arrive in the mail each week or each month. They are frothy, entertaining reads, and I look forward to each new issue. And then there’s Smithsonian magazine. I can’t remember when or why we started subscribing to Smithsonian. It costs more than most of the others, and it demands more of my time and attention than they do. But for several years now, whenever I give it my time, it pays me back several times over in richly detailed stories about worlds and topics I never dreamed I’d be interested in, let alone become fascinated with. My wife and daughter have followed me into the pages of Smithsonian, and we probably talk about stories we’ve read there more often than anything else in the house. That’s why I jumped at the chance to interview Carey Winfrey, editor of Smithsonian magazine. A lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps in the 1960s, Winfrey has since collected a series of damned impressive journalism credentials, including writing for Time magazine, winning an Emmy Award at PBS in 1974, reporting for The New York Times, and landing a job as editor-in-chief of Cuisine. He founded Memories magazine and spent six years as editor-in-chief of American Health. Before landing at Smithsonian in 2001, he spent several years as an assistant managing editor at People magazine.
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of guys who remember every line from Cool Hand Luke and The Naked Gun but can’t remember their wife’s birthday… in the NEW new media capital of the world, St. Petersburg, Florida!
It’s easy to point out that George Kennedy, in a career spanning five decades, worked with some of the greatest names in Hollywood history. Paul Newman. Cary Grant. Kirk Douglas. Frank Sinatra. Leslie Nielsen. Bettie Davis. Clint Eastwood. John Wayne. Maggie Smith. Peter Ustinov. Carol Burnett. David Niven. That’s pretty cool, of course, but having just finished his new book, Trust Me: A Memoir, I realize how lucky they were to have worked with him.
GEORGE KENNEDY audio excerpt: "Ellen Barkin (who plays Kennedy's daughter in the film, 'Another Happy Day') is one of the wonders in life. She's like Rocky Graziano in skirts."
Now in his mid-80s, Kennedy has illustrated so many iconic roles – Joe Patroni in the Airport movies, Captain Ed Hocken in The Naked Gun movies, Bumper Morgan in “The Blue Knight” TV series– and, of course, he won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing “Dragline” in Cool Hand Luke in 1967 – so it’s going to be as hard for me to know where to start asking questions as it was for him to organize all of his stories in the book. If you love a good Hollywood story, you’ll love reading Kennedy’s stories of shooting The Eiger Sanction with Eastwood or suffering the cheapness and meanness of John Derek on Bolero. He even explains how he came to appear as Ellen Barkin's father in Another Happy Day, one this year's hottest film festival indie releases. Trust me: this is going to be a real treat.
Playmate Lana Tailor is a beautiful young woman who, if the HDNet commercials are to be believed, rarely sits still. Lucky us. As one of the co-hosts of the cable TV series Get Out! Canada, the former Playboy playmate seemingly goes anywhere and does anything.
LANA TAILOR audio excerpt: "You can stick me anywhere with those girls and we'd have a blast!"
Her show is a little like “Wild On,” which launched Brooke Burke into public eye – as in ay-yi-yi – several years ago. Get Out! Canada airs every Thursday @ 8 p.m. on HDNet.
Milo Ventimiglia is not your average save-the-world superhero, although he does play one, Peter Petrelli, on NBC’s hit series “Heroes.” In real life, he’s an ambitious actor and producer whose company, Divide Pictures, just completed a series of five animated holiday shorts available exclusively on the American Eagle Outfitters website. Milo narrated the first episode, “Home for the Holidays”; others feature the voices of Kristen Bell, Lil Jon, Adrianne Palicki, and Pete Wentz, the Fall Out Boy. Milo Ventimiglia Twitter • Order Heroes: Season 3 from Amazon.com BOB ANDELMAN/Mr. MEDIA: I hate to pimp for American Eagle Outfitters, but it seems appropriate here. I have to think that any fan of yours -- and “Gilmore Girls” for that matter -- is going to love “Home for the Holidays” because you play yourself. How much fun was that? MILO VENTIMIGLIA: It was a lot of fun. The “Home for the Holidays” tale was kind of a combination of stories between myself and Adam Green, the writer/director of “Winter Tales.” I was just thinking about different situations I’d find myself in, or that he’d find himself in, and came up with the tale of a guy who’s taking a really miserable plane ride home. ANDELMAN: Now, that’s never happened to you, has it?
VENTIMIGLIA: Not exactly. Like I said, it was a combination of stories between myself and Adam Green. ANDELMAN: How weird was it, though, to find yourself playing yourself and have this kid, I don’t want to give it too much away, but the kid has a little problem with reality, I guess? VENTIMIGLIA: Yeah, I guess, a little bit, a little problem. All he wants to do is relax, but he can’t do that. ANDELMAN: What’s a guy like you doing in the realm of animated holiday shorts? How did that come about? VENTIMIGLIA: It was just another opportunity to work with American Eagle Outfitters. We did one series of shorts with them earlier called “It’s a Mall World,” which I produced, and we just found a great partnership with them. And we pitched the idea of Claymation, and they’re really into it, so we developed a bunch of stories and made these classic tales our own. And what you get is five great shorts.
MILO VENTIMIGLIA audio excerpt: "I think in a world where there are people with abilities, I’d take my character’s. He’s a sponge. He can soak up anything. But if I just had any ability, I’d want to be able to teleport. I could go have coffee in Paris if I wanted to and lunch in Italy, then be right back."
ANDELMAN: It’s a lot of fun. How did you get people like Pete Wentz and Kristen Bell to come on board? VENTIMIGLIA: We called up their agents, had excellent relationships, and once you pitched them the idea, they were into it. Kristen Bell, I called myself and said, “I’ve got this thing I’d love for you to work on,” and she was just like, “I’m in. Whatever you want to do, I’m in.” And then the same thing with Lil Jon, Adrianne, and we just kind of threw it out, and they were more than happy, more than excited, to be a part of it. ANDELMAN: What do you want to do next? If you’re kind of playing with this now, I’m guessing you want to go on to bigger and better in production… VENTIMIGLIA: I enjoy it all. I enjoy directing. I enjoy producing. I enjoy acting. And I take the opportunities that are presented to me when they come up. Of course, I’d love to direct a longer format; I’d love to produce a longer format. And there are a bunch of things that I am circling around, but anytime I’m involved in any one of those three, I can direct and you’re producing for my job, I’ll take it. ANDELMAN: We have to talk about “Heroes,” of course, don’t we? We can’t take live calls today, so I did the next best thing, and I solicited questions from friends of mine and fans of yours. VENTIMIGLIA: Alright. ANDELMAN: So these are coming from a few places here. Let’s start with this question from DigDog: “Did the writers’ strike hobble the show by forcing producers to end any of the storylines prematurely?” VENTIMIGLIA: I don’t think it hobbled us so much as it cut us short. The writers’ strike was one of those unfortunate things that stops production. Beyond the strike, you can’t write anything new. You can only produce what’s been written. We basically ran out of material. I think the producers, it was their intent to give some kind of a wrap-up to what became a very short season just so that people weren’t left with too many questions. In my opinion, it was a good thing to do to, hopefully, tie up a couple loose ends, and we leave people wanting a little bit more.
ANDELMAN: This second season got hit by some criticism early on that it was taking too long to get to the meat. And then it seemed like those last couple weeks, the critics and the fans may have come around a little bit. VENTIMIGLIA: Yeah, they did. We had some problems early on, still working out problems toward the end, but I know the show started to get back to that same feeling, that same sentiment that we all worked very hard for. But it’s one of those things. You just gotta understand that a season is long. You’re making usually 24 episodes, so I think when there’s a little bit of a delay, there’s not that instant, rewarding scene or moment or episode, and people get impatient. So it’s finding that balance between giving and getting. ANDELMAN: It must be hard for both the writers and the actors to be on a show where the expectations are so high. You almost reach a point where, no matter what you do, you’re going to let people down. Is that the case? VENTIMIGLIA: Yeah. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. You just gotta know that, ultimately, the work that you’re doing, the work that you’re putting in, it’s your best efforts, and it’s everybody’s best effort. That being said, though, all those best efforts have to come together in sync. Otherwise, the show doesn’t have a heart. ANDELMAN: Before the writers’ strike set in, how much did you know of plot lines for your character going in? And how much do you think that may change going forward with the delay in getting back into production? VENTIMIGLIA: I knew quite a bit. I knew where we were headed, but I also had the luxury of not really having to follow too closely because Peter had amnesia. I went in for a meeting with Tim Kring before we started filming, and he said, “Peter can’t remember anything.” I said, “Okay, great. Let me know as I need to know stuff.” I just kind of waited around. Usually, you’re pretty eager to know where you’re headed. I had no idea where Peter was going to go, and it didn’t really matter at that point. Where we’re going to be going after, again, that’s all up in the air. I think the production team was taking into consideration the criticism we got and hopefully, wanting to get back on track to the same feel we had the first season. So I think things are going to switch up a little bit. ANDELMAN: Is there any question whether you’ll stay with the show? Eric, who wrote in, said that he had heard rumors that you didn’t necessarily want to continue. VENTIMIGLIA: Who said that? ANDELMAN: Eric. He’s one of the people who sent in some questions for you.
VENTIMIGLIA: Really? I’m a real guy, and I also have a contract that I hope to honor. So I’ll be on the show, I think, as long as they would have me and as long as I’m obligated to it and put my best work forward, and I’ll leave everything else up to time. I’ve got other ambitions, but when it comes to the show, and when we’re in production, that’s what I’m doing. ANDELMAN: Dr. Blogstein, who has a show on BlogTalkRadio, wanted to know this: “Are there considerations in taking a few episodes this coming season or next to go deeper into the back story and focus on your character’s parents as well as George Takei’s character and some of the older heroes?” VENTIMIGLIA: I think that was our intent -- to understand a little bit more. That’s always been the question. People want to know how did these abilities come about? The way the show’s been going -- the storyline -- it seems that there was a greater mystery as to why these people, how these people have these abilities. Again, that’s a lot up to the writers about what they’re looking to explore. And, of course, the actors, we can give our two cents in what we’d like to see, what we’d like to get into, but it’s ultimately up to the writers.
MILO VENTIMIGLIA audio excerpt: "I went in for a meeting with Tim Kring before we started filming, and he said, 'Peter can’t remember anything.' I said, 'Okay, great. Let me know as I need to know stuff.' I just kind of waited around. Usually, you’re pretty eager to know where you’re headed. I had no idea where Peter was going to go, and it didn’t really matter at that point."
ANDELMAN: Sharon wants to know -- and remember, I didn’t write these questions -- if you’re not dating Hayden Panettiere, who are you dating? VENTIMIGLIA: Is my what? ANDELMAN: If you’re not dating Hayden… VENTIMIGLIA: My phone broke up. ANDELMAN: I’m sorry? VENTIMIGLIA: I said my phone had a little glitch for a second. ANDELMAN: Oh. Okay. Sharon’s question is, “If you’re not dating Hayden Panettiere, who are you dating?” VENTIMIGLIA: It’s one of those funny questions that… ANDELMAN: I’m glad I didn’t ask. VENTIMIGLIA: I think when you’re young and in this industry, and you work as much as I do, you try to spend time with people that want to spend time with you. That’s about all you can do. ANDELMAN: Alright. Last question: Mimi asks, “What powers would you want in real life?” VENTIMIGLIA: I think in a world where there are people with abilities, I’d take my character’s. He’s a sponge. He can soak up anything. But if I just had any ability, I’d want to be able to teleport. I could go have coffee in Paris if I wanted to and lunch in Italy, then be right back.
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with 40 Weeks documentary filmmakers Dominique Debroux and Christopher Henze by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of future moms and dads... who are just waiting for me to reveal their fate in our next segment … in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida! [
I was up-close and personal with a pregnancy a little more than 18 years ago when my wife gave birth to our daughter. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Thrilling and exhilarating; enervating and exhausting; it packed every emotion I had previously ever experienced into nine months. Sometimes, into a single day.
CHRISTOPHER HENZE podcast excerpt: "A pregnancy is completely individual, as unique as a fingerprint. But at the same time, it's 100 percent universal. Every mom, at 12 weeks, is wondering how she's going to go public with the news. They're worrying about miscarriage. Every mom is considering the sex of their baby at 20 weeks. Every mom is wondering when their baby is going to come to viability between 24 and 32 weeks."
A generation later, I’ve much enjoyed watching my friends and neighbors across the street, Patrick and Jennifer, going through many of the same twists and turns that we did. That may be why watching a new unscripted documentary film, 40 Weeks, so captured my attention. Married filmmakers Dominque Debroux and Christopher Henze take us on parallel journeys with an array of women all experiencing pregnancy. Some are first-timers, some have already been around the block. At least one finds herself going through it alone, while another gets the devastating news that the cancer she successfully fought back years earlier has returned and will challenge her ability to bring a pregnancy to fruition.
DOMINIQUE DEBROUX podcast excerpt: "We gave the moms these great Sony video cameras to do self-filming. The couples would film each other as well as themselves. And every couple of weeks we would send in a verite shooter, someone who--even less obtrusively--would stand there and film. After the first couple of times, the moms forgot she was there. They would be eating dinner and suddenly say, 'Oh, do you want to eat?' 'No, no, I'm not here!'"
I know how dealing with one expectant mom could be challenging to say the least; I can’t imagine shepherding an entire platoon through 40 weeks – and the presence of a camera crew. This should be quite interesting.
More baby talk with Mr. Media:
Writer Eric Wallace talks about Syfy's 'Eureka! (1 of 2)
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience that exists in a timeline that closely parallels your own… in the new new media capital of the world, St. Petersburg, Florida!
I would have written this introduction hours ago and had plenty of time to polish it, except – as usual – my wife and daughter insisted I drop everything and watch the latest episode of the Syfy original series “Eureka.” Not that it’s ever a tough sell with me – “Eureka” is, after all one of the smartest and most entertaining shows on TV. I know this cable sweet spot doesn’t attract the word of mouth of shows on the networks or on HBO, but trust me, it’s worth your time. On previous shows, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with several stars of “Eureka,” including Colin Ferguson, Niall Matter and Neil Grayston. But today us fans of the show get an extra dimension: a behind-the-scenes peek with writer and executive story editor Eric Wallace.
ERIC WALLACE audio excerpt: "We made a bold choice to revamp things. We like what we're doing, we feel strongly about it -- let's stick with it. This is the real universe. We're staying here and not going back. We thought the best way to do it was just not to comment. Syfy said, 'Go for it and don't ever go back.'"
Wallace joined the show in season one as an assistant before joining the writing stuff full time. Now he’s one of the most visible faces of the show’s writing room and his work is featured on the August 8 episode. And when he’s not writing for “Eureka,” Wallace has a second gig as a comic book writer. He’s behind “Mister Terrific,” one of the titles DC Comics is launching as a first issue this fall (Sept. 14).
(2007) A.J. Jacobs must have the best magazine job in America. As editor-at-large for Esquire, here are a few examples of recent stories appearing under his byline: • “My Outsourced Life,” detailing his effort to send his writing assignments to India, • “Googling A.J. Jacobs’s Brain,” about his proposed effort to catalogue his thoughts, dreams, and desires “The Sexiest Woman Alive 2005” and “2006,” in which he spent five months teasing readers as to the identities of Jessica Biel and Scarlett Johansson. And, yes, he was required by law to spend time with each of them, passing off flirtation as research. And then there was his equally painful interview with Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives” in which he described each of her body parts in languorous detail. Oh, I could go on and on about the women in his professional life. They also include Mary Louise Parker and Rosario Dawson. But then we’d never get to the reason for this interview, which is to celebrate his hysterical, yet thought-provoking new book, The Year of Living Biblically.
A.J. JACOBS audio excerpt: "I was walking around Manhattan in a white robe and sandals carrying a staff. I didn’t have sheep with me most of the time."
BOB ANDELMAN/Mr. MEDIA: I have to start by saying I think you’re a friggin’ genius. Not only do you have an inventive new book and a magazine publisher prompting it and promoting it online and in print, but you’ve also found ways within its own text to subtly plug your last book, The Know-It-All. At least -- I counted -- 13 times directly. A.J. JACOBS: Really? Oh, wow, I didn’t realize I was that good. ANDELMAN: Well, it’s easy. Anyone can figure it out. You actually have an index. There’s an index, and you can go through, and you can count. So directly or indirectly, thirteen plugs, and that, to me, as a guy who’s written a few books, I have to say, I think it’s as brilliant as Nick Tosches thanking himself in the acknowledgements to one of his books because, without him, his books wouldn’t have been possible. JACOBS: That’s true. That’s absolutely true. Yeah, well, that’s nice. Maybe I should have a coupon for the first book in The Year of Living Biblically. ANDELMAN: I think that’s the only thing that’s missing. I think it’s great. I think it’s brilliant. How did The Year of Living Biblically come about? JACOBS: It came about because I grew up in an incredibly secular home. As I say in the book, I am Jewish but in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian. So not very Jewish at all. And I actually thought that religion was gonna wither away, and we’d all live in this sort of scientific world. But, of course, that didn’t happen, and so I became fascinated with was I missing something by not having a spiritual life? But was I missing something essential to being human like someone who’s never heard Beethoven? Or was half the world deluded? So I decided to dive in head first cause that’s what I like to do. So I dive in head first to try to understand the Bible, this most influential book in the world. And I thought the best way to do it would be try to actually get inside the minds of the ancient people and get in the sandals of my forefathers. ANDELMAN: And you did this how? JACOBS: Well, I read the Bible, and I compiled a list of every suggestion, every rule, every commandment in the Bible. And by the end, my list was 72 pages, over 700 rules. Everything from the Ten Commandments we all know, all the famous ones, no lying, no coveting, but it also had dozens, hundreds of obscure rules like don’t wear clothes with mixed fibers and don’t, well, stone adulterers, for instance. So I wanted to try to follow every single one of those. So just commit myself completely to this project. So that’s what I did. ANDELMAN: Now, I’m definitely, I’m about as close to agnostic as you are, as you were at least. Moses had 613 rules that he brought down, didn’t he? JACOBS: Right. ANDELMAN: But you actually got over 700. JACOBS: Well, I included sections of the Bible including the Proverbs, which have a lot to say about, for instance, laziness. So I couldn’t be lazy anymore. The Proverbs don’t like naps very much so it was unfortunate I couldn’t take naps all year. So I included other sections of the Bible in addition to the five books of Moses. ANDELMAN: The thing that struck me reading was that this research must have affected a lot more people than just you. Particularly, your wife comes to mind. JACOBS: My wife is a saint. That is true. I won’t deny it. Yeah, it was the most extreme makeover of my life. It affected every single part so the way I ate, the way I talked, the way I dressed, and the way I touched my wife. So she was very patient. I’m glad that we’re still married.
ANDELMAN: And you literally did change the way that you touched your wife. There were times where she was considered impure by the Bible. JACOBS: That’s right. ANDELMAN: Which meant not just not touching her, you couldn’t sit where she sat. JACOBS: Right. There’s a section of the Bible, if you take it literally, that says you cannot sit where an impure woman has sat, which ruled out pretty much every chair, and in New York, you’ve got the subways, the buses. And my wife, as revenge, she didn’t like that rule so she sat on every chair in our apartment so I was reduced to doing a lot of standing. ANDELMAN: And then you actually found a portable chair, right? JACOBS: I did. I carried around a chair, a little pure chair for the subways. ANDELMAN: Now, who else was affected by this project? People you work with, perhaps? Your son? JACOBS: Yeah, people I work with. You mentioned Rosario Dawson. There was a little conflict between my work life where I work for Esquire, a men’s magazine. I like to think it’s a high-brow men’s magazine, but it’s still a men’s magazine. So interviewing Rosario Dawson while trying to obey the Bible’s rules about lusting, that was not an easy one. I had to do the interview without looking at her. ANDELMAN: You were in the same room, though. JACOBS: Oh, yeah. I just avoided eye contact. ANDELMAN: Uh-huh. And how did Rosario feel about this? JACOBS: Rosario was actually very understanding. I had a huge beard like this hedgehog on my face, and she actually said that, she was one of the few people who said she actually liked the beard. ANDELMAN: Well, of course, at that point, wasn’t she just coming off working with Kevin Smith? JACOBS: That’s right. Yeah. So she was used to it. ANDELMAN: Were there other assignments that were affected by the beard and the whole practice? JACOBS: Well, I did an assignment on the Bible for Esquire so that was one. But, yeah, it was the clash between the way we live now in the 21st century and the way they lived then. It’s all I see now. I was walking around Manhattan in a white robe and sandals carrying a staff. I didn’t have sheep with me most of the time. ANDELMAN: Most of the time. JACOBS: Most of the time. Well, I did go on a number of adventures because I wanted to immerse myself with people who live biblically or took the Bible literally in some way. So I did go to Israel, and I did spend the day shepherding sheep, which was one of the most, the greatest experiences of my book. ANDELMAN: Now, there was also Uncle Gil. JACOBS: Right. My family has an interesting religious background because most of us are very secular, but my ex-uncle, a man formerly married to my aunt, is probably the most religious person in the world. He’s been through every major religion. He was a born-again Christian. He was a Buddhist. He was a Hindu cult leader. And now he’s an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. ANDELMAN: In any of that time, I kept wondering, did he do Amway? JACOBS: I didn’t see that in his autobiography, but he’d be good. ANDELMAN: It’s a really interesting book to read, partly because it’s funny, but it’s also very thought provoking, as I said earlier. Myself, I’ve always been much less of a religious person and more of a Ten Commandments guy. I always thought, if you needed guiding principles in life, the Ten Commandments seemed to boil down pretty well to the basics of being a good person. JACOBS: Right. ANDELMAN: But, I wondered, now that you’ve finished the book, what elements of your year continue with you? JACOBS: Well, it’s interesting because the book did change me in a hundred different ways, big and small. There is humor in the book, I hope, but that’s only part of it. I really was fascinated with religion, and I wanted to see what, if anything, I was missing. So there are things that I found about religion that I’ve kept even after my year. I don’t stone adulterers anymore, but I… ANDELMAN: Thank God. JACOBS: Yeah, thank God. I definitely, the Bible gave me a sense of gratefulness because there’s a lot of talk about thanking in the Bible, which I think it’s really important to remember the hundred things that go right in a day instead of focusing on the three or four things that go wrong. So it really helped me in that. And one of the other lessons I learned is that by acting with almost a “fake it till you make it” approach because I was acting like a moral person. I was not coveting. I was not lying. I was trying not to gossip. And, if you do that, you slowly become a slightly better person. I’m not Angelina Jolie or Gandhi, but I feel that by committing yourself to acting, pretending that you’re a good person, you actually become a better person. ANDELMAN: Now, have you had that confirmed by other people? JACOBS: That I’m a better person? ANDELMAN: Yeah. JACOBS: Well, my wife thinks I’m a better person now that I shaved my beard
ANDELMAN: What are you especially glad to be done with from that year? A.J. JACOBS: Well, it was a very intense year so it was hard to, for instance, completely cut out lying, to be totally honest, all the time. It’s a radical life change. And I think it’s good not to. I think I learned that I should lie less. But there were times where it was just exhausting because I have a three-year-old kid, and you can’t tell him, “Uh, sorry, the TV’s broken”. You have to say, “No, you can’t watch TV because I don’t want you to,” and so there’s screaming, there’s crying, and he gets upset too. ANDELMAN: I think at one point he wanted a bagel, and you tried to convince him it was an English muffin. No, your wife convinced him it was an English muffin, and you just couldn’t do that. JACOBS: Right. He wanted a bagel. We didn’t have bagels. We only had an English muffin. So she wanted me to say, “Hey, here’s a bagel,” and give him the muffin, but I felt I had to tell him the truth. And it backfired in a massive way. ANDELMAN: Has your year of living biblically changed the way that you will raise him? JACOBS: It has. It has. One of the interesting things is the Bible talks a lot about how the God of the Bible has mercy, but also He has sternness. So I was a pushover dad. I was no backbone, say yes to everything. But I’m trying to be a little more like the God of the Bible where I have a balance between the mercy and the toughness. ANDELMAN: I have to tell you that, of all the things in the book, the one that stopped me dead and made me scratch my head a little bit, I hope you laugh about this, but it was that your son could only watch TV while he was eating. That just really stuck with me. JACOBS: You like that? ANDELMAN: I thought that was interesting. It was the thing that we used to do. We used to let my daughter watch TV while she was eating, but then we noticed that eating was taking an hour to 90 minutes. JACOBS: That is exactly the problem I have. I know. He turns it into like a five-course French meal. ANDELMAN: I know that’s kind of off-topic, but that was the thing that really… I’ll remember that for a while. JACOBS: I wish the Bible had more specific commands about television and when kids should watch it. ANDELMAN: Since you mention that, you did keep working on your Powerbook, which I don’t recall seeing mentioned in any versions of the Bible or even the Torah. JACOBS: Some of the time I actually tried to live like they lived 3,000, 2,000 years ago with the robe, or I wrote a lot by olive oil lamp. But, much of the time, I found if I could just follow the rules strictly then I could do some modern things. There’s no commandment, “Thou shalt not use a Macbook Pro.” So that’s sort of the loophole I found for that. ANDELMAN: Now, one of the unnerving aspects of reading your book, as a writer, again, was the thought of massaging and merging so many versions of the Bible and related texts with so many purported authorities on its content. You have this whole council of people. And then, somehow, you come out of that with expertise yourself, all in less than a year, whereas some of these people have obviously committed their whole lifetimes to this. How did you do that? JACOBS: Well, I’m certainly not the world’s greatest expert on the Bible, but I think I’ve got a unique point of view on it. And, as you say, I had a spiritual advisory board. I had rabbis, ministers, priests, some very liberal, some extremely conservative, and they helped me navigate. But, in the end, one of the goals was to see if I could strip away all the interpretations and get back to what the Bible actually said, what it meant back then, get back to the Biblical bedrock. And I realized that this was Mission: Impossible. I could not do that. The Biblical bedrock is too slippery. You can’t find out what it meant, the original intent was. But it was a fascinating journey, and I learned thousands of things along the way. So I’m glad I did it even if I’ll never know what Moses actually meant with a certain passage. ANDELMAN: Would I be wrong in guessing that the proofreading and copy-editing process might have been a bit of a nightmare? JACOBS: That is true. There were a lot of names that…Methuselah and things. I thank God for the copy editors. ANDELMAN: I was going to ask you if you encountered any editors along the process who did not appreciate the point of view in the book or the interpretation of certain things in the book. JACOBS: Well, I actually thought I would get a lot more flak than I did, and I’m not really sure why I didn’t. Definitely, there are people who don’t approve of my project, but far more people have been accepting of it. And I think that that is because I went in there with an open mind, really trying to understand this incredibly influential book as opposed to going in with an agenda. ANDELMAN: Now, as we’re talking, the book hasn’t officially gone on sale yet. JACOBS: True. ANDELMAN: There’re a few things ahead of us that you don’t know what’s going to happen. But what would surprise you in the months to come as far as the acceptance of the book goes? Would it be, if this hasn’t already happened, would it be if someone wanted to option the book as a movie, would that surprise you? Before you answer that, I’m thinking also you write about going into a Bible bookstore in Manhattan where there was a guy there who was real mellow and real calm. Would it surprise you to walk by there one day in the coming months and see the book in the window, for example? JACOBS: As for the first question, it actually was already optioned as a screenplay by Paramount. ANDELMAN: Good for you. JACOBS: It was actually quite a bizarre process because we optioned the idea, and they wrote the screenplay simultaneously as I was writing the book. And the guy who wrote the screenplay actually finished his screenplay before I finished my book. So I want us to get a hold of the screenplay and see how my year ended. But it’s in development, and things are looking good, but you never know with Hollywood. And as for the bookstore, it is interesting. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback so far from evangelical Christians who, I don’t agree with a lot of what they say, but I did try to explore their point of view, and they seem to be interested. So I’m hoping the book will appeal to everyone from the Christopher Hitchens-type atheists to the Orthodox Jews, but we’ll see. ANDELMAN: Are you now or do you see yourself becoming a regular at either temple or church at some point? JACOBS: Well, I started the year as an agnostic and, by the end of the year, I don’t want to give away the ending. By the end of the year, I’m still agnostic, but I call myself a reverent agnostic. It’s actually a term a minister friend of mine came up with because, whether or not there’s a God, I do believe there’s something to the idea of sacredness and that rituals can be sacred and the Sabbath can be sacred, and there’s an importance to that, whether or not God exists. ANDELMAN: So you didn’t come back and decide that you wanted to be Jewish, something you had not been really beforehand. JACOBS: Well, I actually am a little more committed than I was. My kid is going to a Jewish school for the first couple of years. I don’t think he’ll continue in a Jewish school the whole way, but it happens to be a block away from our house so that helps. And I like some of the rituals, the Seder, and other things which I just didn’t have when I was growing up. ANDELMAN: A.J., how did this book, the research and preparation for this book, compare to The Know-It-All in which you read the entire encyclopedia? JACOBS: The Know-It-All was definitely an intellectual Everest because I had to read 33,000 pages and 44 million words. And not every single word was fascinating. So, nothing against the Portuguese, but the 25 pages on Portuguese literature, I could’ve done without. So it was a very challenging year, but I think that the Bible was more of a challenge because it affected every single part of my life. So it affected the way I ate, the way I talked, the way I thought, the way I touched my wife. It was a full immersion experiment. ANDELMAN: How do you follow this? To the magazine, of course, you’ve set yourself up as the go-to guy for interviewing the hottest actresses and, with the books, you’re the go-to guy for time intensive big projects. What do you do next? JACOBS: I know. I’m trying to think. My wife thinks I should try eating at every restaurant in New York City. My brother-in-law thinks I should become a eunuch for a year, but I don’t know if that can be a year long project. It’s sort of a lifetime commitment. ANDELMAN: That’s the brother-in-law? JACOBS: Yeah. ANDELMAN: Yeah, that figures, doesn’t it? JACOBS: Yeah. He thinks that would be a good idea. He thinks I have enough kids. I have some ideas, but I haven’t settled on one yet. But I do love the genre, the immersion genre or whatever you want to call it. I just love living these things, and I love reading other people’s books about it cause I think it’s like a memoir with added value. You get to look at someone’s life, but you also get a peek at this fascinating topic. ANDELMAN: Well, it seems like you have a pretty good gig in balancing the occasional book with the magazine visibility and obviously the hot babes. So I have to say I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the business who’s very envious of what you do. But I really enjoyed the book. I’m really glad we had time to talk today. JACOBS: Oh, I had a great time. Thanks, Bob. And envying is a sin, of course. ANDELMAN: Yes, but I’m not keeping to the Good Book. A.J. Jacobs Website • Twitter • Facebook • Esquire • Instagram • YouTube • LinkedIn • Wikipedia • IMDB • Goodreads • Global Family Reunion • Esquire Archives
Eddie McClintock was one of those guys who showed up on a lot of TV shows over the years without finding a permanent place to nest and spread his wings—that is, until SyFy chose him to star opposite Joanne Kelly in its signature series, Warehouse 13.
The show debuted last summer to high expectations and it quickly delivered, giving the channel’s new spelling of its name a boost and launching a growing fan base for Warehouse 13’s leads, McClintock and Kelly. Tonight, Warehouse 13 returns at 9 p.m. for the opening salvo of its second season on SyFy. But enough about the show. Let’s talk about Eddie McClintock, professional tweeter or twittererererr… This is a man who appreciates the turn his life has taken and isn’t afraid to blurt it out.
EDDIE McCLINTOCK podcast excerpt: "Boundaries have never been my strong suit."
To wit: “Just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has helped make #WAREHOUSE13 a dream come true for me. now...LET'S KICK SOME ASS!! –Eddie” (8 AM Jul 6th) This is also where we can learn what song Eddie is whistling—yesterday, it was “Killer Queen”—or that the cast and crew saw the season two premiere in a real theater, which made us all envious!
EDDIE McCLINTOCK: "I want the show to succeed so badly that I act as my own PR person in that regard. I know I come off as, 'Look at me, look at me.' But I've got two sons at home who I need to take care of. I've kicked around Hollywood long enough; I don't want to go out and look for another job. I love my job. I'm desirous of hanging on to it and hanging on to Warehouse 13. That's why I do what I do. And... I have OCD and it's fun."
LISTEN! Earlier Warehouse 13 star interviews on Mr. Media:
• Eddie McClintock September 22, 2009
I’m a believer in the wonders of SyFy’s new series, “Warehouse 13.” Oh, I won’t lie to you: there were a few moments in the early episodes where my wife, my daughter and I weren’t sure how much longer we’d stick with it. The show took a little time to get its bearings, convincing itself and the rest of us what kind of treasures awaited the patient. But over the course of its last four or five weeks, “Warehouse 13"—the place where America’s greatest secrets are housed, its mysteries answered, its riddles questioned—has captured our loyalty and respect.
EDDIE McCLINTOCK podcast excerpt: "Any show needs to find out what it is. Until the actors can get to know who their characters are and who they are to one another, it takes a little while. Take any good show—go back and watch Frasier, Friends, Cheers, Seinfeld—it takes a little while."
One of the big reasons for this—according to the women in my house—is the appeal of Eddie McClintock as Pete Latimer, one half of the Warehouse 13 investigative team. McClintock’s character is part Mulder from “The X-Files,” a dash of Captain Jonathan Archer from “Star Trek Enterprise,” and a measure of the lighter, boyish side of George Clooney in the Oceans movie series. If you haven’t stepped into the Warehouse yet, take advantage of Hulu.com and catch up. The first season finale airs tonight, Thursday, September 22 at 9 p.m., and I know it will be a blast. Eddie McClintock Website • Twitter • Facebook • IMDB • Wikipedia • LISTEN! More Warehouse 13 star interviews on Mr. Media: • Eddie McClintock July 6, 2010 • Saul Rubinek June 28, 2010 & July 7, 2009
(2009) They’re “The Whitest Kids U’Know”—and if you don’t know them yet, chances are, you will soon.
The Whitest Kids are Trevor Moore, Sam Brown, Zach Cregger, Timmy Williams, and Darren Trumeter. Their third season of “The Whitest Kids U’Know” TV show is now airing on IFC, the Independent Film Channel, Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.
And on March 13, the Whitest Kids star in a new movie, Miss March. Joining me today are two of The Whitest Kids U’Know—and the stars of Miss March—Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore.
(2009) Larry “Bones” Dennison has been on the music scene for many years, playing with the likes of Ronnie James Dio and Lita Ford. But tomorrow is a pretty big day for the experienced singer: His band, Country Bones, will be the featured musical guest on Tuesday, April 28 on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The band’s single "Let It Ride" will also be released on iTunes on Tuesday. A 4-song EP will immediately follow the single. You can also make him your friend on MySpace,
(2009) Food for thought: Is Pete Hornberger, producer of “The Girlie Show Starring Tracy Jordan” actually the most normal person on the show’s staff? Or do we only get to see actor Scott Adsit in such short bursts as Tina Fey’s straight man on “30 Rock” that we don’t know the real Pete yet? That’s one of the questions I’ll ask my guest this morning. I’m also curious about his guest role on the most recent episode of “Life On Mars,” in which he plays an actor-slash-bartender.
More '30 Rock' cast interviews with Mr. Media: Kevin 'Dotcom' Brown (2010 video) • Grizz Chapman (Audio) • Scott Adsit (2010 Audio) • Keith Powell (Audio) • Patti Lupone (Audio) • Maulik Pancholy (2010 Audio) • Maulik Pancholy (2011 Audio)
1983 I remember the day I interviewed the Allen Collins Band. It was May 5, 1983, and it was memorable for many reasons. First, of course, was that I got to speak with Billy Powell, Randall Hall and Leon Wilkeson, former members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who had reformed, first as the Rossington-Collins Band, then as the Allen Collins Band. Second, the guys in the band were so disarmingly nice. And third, in interviewing the Allen Collins Band, I literally interviewed everyone in the band except their leader, Allen Collins. To this day, I’m not sure where Allen was, but the band’s manager fed me everyone else in the band in the hopes Allen would eventually show up. This was fun, but a little challenging; I was only prepared for Allen. It took a little imagination to think of questions for everyone; amazingly, the conversation went on for 70 minutes before we all acknowledged Allen wasn’t coming and we called it a day. And ultimately my editor decided not to publish a story about the Allen Collins Band without Allen Collins. I was reminded of all this when I heard about the passing of original Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player Billy Powell on January 28, 2009. As I understand it, Powell joined Skynyrd first as a roadie. One day, according to legend, singer Ronnie Van Zant heard Powell play “Freebird” on the piano and invited him to join the band as a player.
In 1977, Powell was on the chartered plane that crashed and killed Van Zant, as well as Steve Gaines and injured the rest of the band, Powell included. Over the next decade, Powell played in two Skynyrd spinoffs, the Rossington-Collins Band and the Allen Collins Band. And when Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited in 1987, Powell was there. He continued playing with Skynyrd,behind Ronnie Von Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, until Powell’s death. I hope you’ll enjoy this never-before-heard Mr. Media “Lost Tapes” interview with the Allen Collins Band—including the late Billy Powell, recorded on May 5, 1983.
Billy Powell Wikipedia