In a broadcast from Richmond, Virginia, today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is U.S. Senator and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who also was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2016 as running-mate of Hillary Clinton. Host Peter Sagal touches on the election a few times (and in amusing ways...), though doesn't dwell on it. Mainly, Kaine tells a long, hilarious story about a Virginia tradition when the outgoing governor hands over the keys to the governor's mansion to the new occupant and is supposed to pull a prank. He explains what he did, which he proudly suggests will never be topped.
On this week's Al Franken podcast, he moves off from politics for the week and talks to writer/director/producer Judd Apatow (whose works include Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Trainwreck and producing Anchorman and Bridesmaids). They discuss comedy, mental health and politics. Okay, so they do get some politics in there, too...
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is actor Leslie Odom Jr. who came to particular fame winning a Tony Award starring in the musical Hamilton as Aaron Burr. Not shockingly he and host Peter Sagal don't talk all that much about his career but spend all the time interestingly talking behind-the-scenes stories about Hamilton.
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is Gloria Steinhem. Her interview with host Peter Sagal is generally pretty straight-forward but he keeps it thoughtful and even charming, and she ends up telling several unexpected tales of her career.
As I've mentioned, quite a few times..., Air New Zealand makes wildly adventurous air safety videos, most notably three of them based on Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth, which I've posted. But they've done a lot others, several of which I've said I'd post.
This is one called "Safety in Hollywood," and it stars Anna Farris and a popular New Zealand actor/comedian named Rhys Darby (who's been in such movies as Yes Man, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and its upcoming sequel, Pirate Radio, and was a regular on the series Flight of the Conchords.) Once again, this is not your typical airline safety video...
Sometimes I have been known to foolishly jump into an argument where there's a good chance I will be pummeled by those not willing to look at the point being made. But I do so because -- oh, I don't know, because I'm me. And also because I think it's the right thing to do, and if I get pummeled, the lumps are worth taking. Up to a point.
Acclaimed film director Ava DuVernay, who directed such acclaimed films as Selma (which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar) and whose documentary 13th received an Oscar nomination, posted the following on Twitter yesterday --
For reasons unknown to man, I foolishly decided to step into it and responded. What I wrote was -- "I don't understand your point. English is the official language of England, Australia, Canada, South Africa & many others. Like Nigeria, all are eligible to compete for Oscars. The "International Feature" Award is *specifically* for films done in a language other than English."
In case it isn't familiar to you, the Best International Feature Film is the new name that the Motion Picture Academy has given to what used to be known as the Best Foreign Language Film. The Academy thought the old name was outdated in today's global world. However, the rules for the category stayed exactly the same. To qualify for this one award, a film's dialogue most be predominantly in a language other than English. The point was to create at least one category where a non-English movie had a serious chance to compete for an Oscar.
And for the record, my understanding is that a film from Nigeria could complete in the category if the dialogue in it was not predominantly in English.
In response to Ms. DuVernay, some posted their own complaint against the Motion Picture Academy and its poor record on People of Color. The person wrote --
Forgetting for the moment that the correct title of that movie was Pursuit of Happyness, I decided again to foolishly step into it. What I wrote back was -- "The year Will Smith was nominated for THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS was 2006. That year, the winner of Best Actor was Forest Whitaker, for THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND".
Sometimes life creates realities that are just too perfect. I had been prepared to make a totally different argument when I first decided to check out who the other nominees were that year. When it turned out that the winner was another Black actor, I thanked the Whimsy of Life since it was a significantly easier point to make on Twitter, with its limit on characters.
(By the way, the issue of someone getting screwed out of an Oscar unfairly -- whether for race or just personal preference -- is a separate matter entirely and an profoundly thin one to make. I always say to people when they try to make it, "Okay, these are the five people who got nominated. Which one would you drop out to make room for the person you like?" Only on a very rare occasion is it easy to come up with an answer. Generally, everyone nominated did a very good job, and dropping any of them would seem just as unfair.)
Actually, I think I do know why I decided to step into both these potentially dicey situations. Whether it was wise and best to just let them pass is another matter. But I think the reason was not just that I like accuracy in pretty much everything where appropriate, but mostly because I think both people were trying to make points on a very serious and important topic -- and were doing those points a disservice.
The Motion Picture Academy does not have a great history in race relations. Much of that, in fairness, is because of poor race relations through the country as a whole, and it is reflected in the Academy rather than that standing out as unique. What I have argued elsewhere, by the way, is that people who rightly want to complain about diversity in Hollywood would be far-better served, I believe, to address the hiring practices throughout Hollywood on movie productions, which for most of its history were almost exclusively white, rather than pointing to who is getting awards. (It's worth noting that people who get nominated for Academy Awards -- or even are in consideration for them -- are more likely than not doing much better in their careers than most people in Hollywood.) But focusing more on hiring practices and bringing more diversity to movie and TV productions, as well as all of Hollywood, would directly impact many more people's lives -- and ultimately would likely make more people of color eligible to become Academy members, which would impact who got nominated for Academy Awards.
And in the end, that's all related to why I decided to respond. There is a great case to be made about diversity in Hollywood. And a great discussion to be had. But when you make the wrong case, you are not only diverting attention from what is actually important and meaningful, but you are allowing people to easily refute your point and thereby dismiss the argument out of hand for you being wrong, by suggesting that you don't know what you're talking about.
It's an important topic. These were very bad, wrong-headed points to make which diminished the topic which deserves much better.
At the moment, I don't know if I'll get pummeled for having responded on social media to all of this. I suspect I will, though if so, I'll now at least have this piece to point to for a longer explanation. As well as the explanation to the people that, while I understand you disagree, in this case I am demonstrably, objectively and factually 100% correct,
And if a person wants to step back and make a different argument about diversity in Hollywood, as well as in American society in general, the floor is open to that. Because it's a great place to start.
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is soprano Renee Fleming. This is particularly timely since only other day I saw her perform with the L.A. Opera in a production of the Broadway musical Light in the Piazza. It's also appropriate that she's a guest on the show which takes place in Chicago, since she is the Creative Consultant for the Chicago Lyric Opera. Her interview with host Peter Sagal is a lot of fun, as she periodically gives examples of how she uses her operatic voice in real-life situations.
I thought I'd do a couple things different for this week's episode of Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, the the NPR quiz show created and hosted by Peter Sagal. First, usually I'm a few weeks behind the current episode, but today we'll be posting this week's show the same week it aired. And second, I'm going to embed the full show, not just the 'Not My Job" segment. And that's all because this week Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is celebrating its 1,000th show. I figure that that's as good a reason anything to give people the chance to hear what the full program is really like. (If you'd still only like to listen to 'Not My Job,' you can just jump forward about 20 minutes. The guest is pioneering biologist Nalini Nadkarni.)
Though this is a 'Mystery Guest' segment of What's My Line?, it's different from the others I've posted here for a long while. It's from the later-syndicated version of the show that ran from 1968-75, And it's in color. Broadway actor Larry Blyden is the host here, having taken over in 1972. (He co-starred with Alan Alda and Tony-winner Barbara Harris in the musical, The Apple Tree, written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, not long after they did Fiddler on the Roof. And the guest is Leonard Nimoy.
With a connection to its past, one of the panelists here is Arlene Francis who appeared on the original show for a very long time. Other panelists are Bert Parks (most famous for hosting the Miss America Pageant for year), Soupy Sales, and singer Dana Valery,
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is actress Regina King, who won an Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk, and currently stars in HBO's new series Watchmen, Her interview with host Peter Sagal is fairly straight-forward but personable.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
Feedspot Badge of Honor