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Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin
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Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin

Author: WNYC Studios

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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
207 Episodes
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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 as a private investigator.  "Film-making saved me," he says.  Morris also responds to the heated controversy surrounding his new documentary, American Dharma, about Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, rejecting the argument that it was wrong to provide Bannon a platform for his ideas.
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, who tries to bend New York City to his will.  Their shared experience on set sparks a conversation about directing, and all the great directors Norton has worked with, including Spike Lee, David Fincher, Tony Kaye, and Miloš Forman.  A "cheat sheet" of all the movies and directors Edward and Alec discussed, in order, is available at https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/heresthething/edwardandalec.
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 Psychology professor) helped her arrive at that place of openness.  After a few bad auditions, he sat her down and said, "You have an expectation that people should just be giving you stuff, and it's untenable.  People feel it.  You walk into a room and nobody wants to be around you."  "And so," Light tells Alec, "when I walked into the audition for Who's the Boss, I was in a very different place."
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 I play one on TV."  Since 1989, the soaps have been less central to popular culture, but Bergman has played a much richer character than the debonair doctor:  his last 30 years have been spent playing Jack Abbott on The Young and the Restless.  Jack is the mercurial head of Jabot Cosmetics, trying to triumph in love and industry over his rival Victor Newman.  Alec and Bergman bond over their shared past as high school athletes who found themselves attracted to the stage, and over the joys and difficulties of daytime television.
Lang Lang Plays

Lang Lang Plays

2019-09-1700:48:532

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 conservatory.  Throughout the interview, Lang Lang plays pieces from his latest album, Piano Book, a collection of pieces normally reserved for young learners, reinterpreted with brilliance and respect by the great master.  And we at WNYC add more of our favorites from Piano Book and beyond.
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 stardom. That story includes his many marriages, even more fistfights, and heretofore untold details from the sometimes-violent set of The Godfather. Plus what sort of roles Caan wanted but didn't get because of typecasting.
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 other than that, the venerable weekly operates much as it always has.  Rattray makes sure Town Board meetings get covered and that the Fishing Report is up to date -- as did his parents, and his grandfather before them.  Alec has been spending time in East Hampton for almost 40 years, so he and Rattray have much to discuss about the paper, and the changes they've witnessed in town.  They also discuss the Star's long-term project to research and confront the Hamptons' slaveholding past -- a past in which Rattray's own ancestors played a part.
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 Greenwich Village that ministers to sex workers, doubters, LGBT folk, the undocumented, and Village gentry alike.  Alec in return tells Donna about his own journey of faith.
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 was driving by and noticed that the building was gone, he researched what had happened.  Online, Alec discovered Matthew's labor of love: perhaps the best, most deeply researched article ever written about a single address.  The Lenape, the Dutch, the English, the factory workers, junkies, artists and bankers -- every stage of New York history had some brush with the land (or water) that is now 31 Desbrosses.  Alec was transfixed, and this funny, fascinating conversation is the result.
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 small-town Wisconsin, to being an out gay man in San Francisco in the early 80s, to his long rise through the ranks at MSM -- and he shares his thoughts on the future of his venerable institution.
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Comments (52)

Stefan Miladinovic

goat

Oct 30th
Reply

K Clarke

Wow, what a wonderful insightful woman. Judith, thank you for sharing your life. Alec, you always share some of your self, thank you.

Oct 20th
Reply

Doug Havens

What a great guy

Sep 4th
Reply (1)

bob caygeon

Baldwin interviews Moby; dueling insufferable narcissists. Moby never related the part where his friend loaned him an old record collection which contained the samples for Play, but he refuses to return them.

Aug 11th
Reply (1)

K Clarke

I just love this podcast! I've moved from the city and Alec you just make me feel back at home again. Great guests and format. Well done!

Aug 9th
Reply

M Moye

the answer is simple. Republicans base is majority, white. most white Republicans want similar things. democrats are different. they try to pull all of their base in the fold. Democratic base is more diverse. so it is a lot harder to come up with one message that will move all dem base.

Aug 1st
Reply (2)

Veronica Gallegos

00

Jul 23rd
Reply (1)

Stephanie Lozano

Mr. Baldwin, I enjoy your various endeavors, thankyou for entertaining me. However it would be greatly appreciated if, during the interview, YOU would stop answering the questions you ask of your guest. Oprah tends to do that. Very rude but more than that, it is distracting.

Jul 21st
Reply (1)

Essentially ZsaZsa

Great interview, Alec. We may just know Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr are as sick as Epstein. This is a deep well, and Ms Brown has hopefully put a big crack in the dam.

Jul 11th
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Kenny Price

This is Alec at his best! No push on politics, just fantastic interview by a master. Alec reminds me of Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show.

Jun 8th
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Gaslitnlovinit

Better kind then right.... But sorta a tough one... Alec knows and always keeps it moving most the time... But he earns his bread on this one for me.... Wow....

May 29th
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Fred Rice

what a treat this was. I was 10 or so when I saw "Kwai" and Horne made an unforgettable impression on me. What an interesting life and calling.

Apr 6th
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Suzanne Salam

I think Hozier would agree that he's Irish, not British

Mar 7th
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Nina Grigoriev

I dry heaved mid-way through this episode. No idea why Alec is so enamoured with this gross-out, twisted director. Recommend to those bizarre souls who saw the human centipede films and thought they were, indeed, brilliant.

Feb 9th
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Stuart Grundy

Shut! posted under wrong episode. Read in relation to Climate Change.

Feb 6th
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Stuart Grundy

Thanks for that one Alec. Particularly loved the advice from Kate about Larry. Keep up the good work. Grundy, UK.

Feb 6th
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Jodi Anderson

Never a dull moment! One of my faves.

Jan 25th
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G. Balazs

ww

Dec 2nd
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G. Balazs

ýxQq

Dec 2nd
Reply

M Moye

This guy has done well in life. And that's a good thing. However, to hear him talk about things, he would be a nightmare to date. He would need a wife with absolutely no goal for herself personally.

Nov 21st
Reply (2)
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