Here's The Thing

Here's The Thing

United States

In WNYC’s new podcast series, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin gives the listener unique entrée into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by taking listeners inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people such as comedian Chris Rock, political strategist Ed Rollins and Oscar winner Michael Douglas. Every two weeks, Alec pursues great conversations in unexpected places to find out what motivates his guests, how they feel about what they do and what keeps them up at night. Here’s The Thing: Listen to what happens when a man you think you know surprises you. Here's the Thing is produced by Emily Botein and Kathie Russo, with Jim Briggs, Wendy Dorr, Ed Herbstman, Melanie Hoopes, Ariana Pekary and Brian Cosgrove. Music supervision for radio shows provided, in part, by Cary LoGrande of Audiosocket. Sign up for the "Here's The Thing" with Alec Baldwin newsletter to get the latest on upcoming episodes of WNYC's newest podcast.

Episodes

How Charles Munn is Saving the Amazon  

Charles Munn's quest to save the Amazon revolves around one theory: if people see the beauty in nature, they’ll fight to protect it. So far, he’s right. Over four decades, the American conservation biologist’s ecotourism mission has helped restore 12 million acres of tropical forests in South America, including some of the most biologically diverse protected areas on earth. He talks to Here’s the Thing about bird watching in the same garden as Einstein, using ecotourism as a conservation tool, and being the only safari guide in the world with a jaguar guarantee.

Audra McDonald is the "Luckiest Survivor in the World"  

Much like the staggering beauty of her voice, Audra McDonald is impossible to ignore. The only artist to sweep all four acting categories at the Tony’s, she’s the most decorated Broadway star of all time. Reviews of her award-winning performances overflow with accolades, describing her stage presence as “spellbinding,” “haunting,” and “genius.” But for the California native, things haven’t always been easy. She talks to Alec about getting into Juilliard, making it on Broadway, and the suicide attempt that helped shape who she is today.

Yes, Jon Anderson's Musical Adventure Isn't Over  

Many words can be used to describe singer-songwriter Jon Anderson; cautious is not one of them. Born in England in 1944, he began singing on his brother’s daily route as a milkman before falling head first for rock n’ roll. After meeting bassist Chris Squire in the late 1960s, he joined a rock group called Mabel Greer’s Toy Shop—and the two left to form a band that was later renamed Yes. Now 72, he’s sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. But for the adventurous Anderson—whose rendition of Goldfinger earned him the nickname "The Shirley Bassey of Rock and Roll," it’s still all about the music.

'The Godfather’ Made Sofia Coppola Protective of Actors  

Before Sofia Coppola could talk, she was in movies, famously playing an infant in her father Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather. She’d appear in the next one too, as an immigrant girl, but it was her role in The Godfather: Part III that caught the attention of the media—not in a good way. Critics claimed her novice performance “ruined” the final chapter of his series. It was a painful moment for Coppola, but one that gave her a firsthand look at the vulnerability of stars. Today she has the reputation of being “soothing” on set—a tactic that, given her multiple awards and accolades, is an effective one.

Philip Galanes Lies Like a Rug  

Philip Galanes is a man of many words—which comes as no surprise to his family, who grew up listening to him read Dear Abby columns aloud. An avid reader and passionate wordsmith, he returned to his alma mater, Yale University, a few years after graduating to get his law degree. But decades into a career as an entertainment attorney, his life took a different path. Today, the brains behind the New York Times advice column Social Q's, he proffers advice on everything from ex-boyfriends to sibling rivalry. The common theme among them all: a little fibbing never hurts.

 

Joe Jackson Suffers No Fools  

Combining three musical genres in your debut album may be risky, but Joe Jackson never cared about playing it safe. In 1979, his first LP Look Sharp! did just that—weaving pop, ska, and punk together into a sound all its own. With songs like Is She Really Going Out With Him? and Steppin Out, his pioneering sound helped usher in the New Wave era of the early 80s, and cement his place as music royalty. Currently on tour nationwide, Jackson talks with Alec Baldwin about “fake news,” the instrument he considers to be medieval torture, and the reason he can no longer watch The Grammys.

Carly Simon Was Afraid of the Spotlight - and Still Is  

It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine the 1970s without Carly Simon. After opening for Cat Stevens at LA's Troubadour in 1971, she gained near instant fame, winning a Grammy for Best New Artist that same year. The daughter of Richard L. Simon, co-founder of publishing house Simon & Schuster, she grew up surrounded by greatness. But if her childhood was peppered with celebrities, her adult life was dripping in them. By her mid-20s she’d meet Bob Dylan, duet with Mick Jagger, and marry James Taylor. Still, the shy New York native was a superstar in her own right, one who battled a stammer and a severe case of stage fright. She tells Alec Baldwin about conquering them both to become a musician who shaped an era. You can learn more about Carly's life in her 2015 memoir, Boys in the Trees

Brian Reed Thought "S-Town" Could Only Ever Be a Cult Show  

Good stories teach us about humankind, great ones change the way we see it. For many, S-Town -- a seven episode series about an eccentric Alabama horologist named John B. McLemore -- has done just that. Released on March 28, the podcast reached critical acclaim near instantly, garnering 16 million downloads in the first seven days. For Brian Reed, the host and producer behind it, the reception has been thrilling. As the world continues to devour his masterpiece, Brian talks to Alec Baldwin about the email where it all began.

Tony Hendra on the Essentiality of Satire  

British-born comedian, actor, and writer Tony Hendra knows a thing or two about mocking politicians. As one of the first editors of the American humor magazine the National Lampoon, he helped perfect and popularize the type of satire that comedians still rely on to challenge the status quo. His move from the variety TV show circuit in the 60s to the parody news world in the 70s was a deliberate response to the election of Richard Nixon. As Donald Trump gives new urgency to an art form Hendra helped shape, he talks to Alec Baldwin about the monk who changed his life, the glory days of National Lampoon, and why it’s a good thing that SNL is getting under the president’s skin.

Bonus Episode: Alec Baldwin in the Hot Seat  

Here’s The Thing listeners are used to hearing Alec ask the questions, but for this bonus episode, he’s the guest! To mark the publication of his new memoir, Nevertheless, Alec talk about money, drugs, career choices and family with Death, Sex & Money host Anna Sale.

Stay tuned for Alec’s conversation with comedian and satirist Tony Hendra – out on Tuesday!

Mark Farner: The Cussing Christian of Rock and Roll  

In 1969, Grand Funk Railroad was an unknown rock band. Two years later, they sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles. Mark Farner -- the group's lead vocalist and principle songwriter -- is still touring four decades later. The self-coined "cussing Christian" talks to Here's the Thing host Alec Baldwin about his Christian faith, the time he almost died twice in one night, and how he wrote one of his greatest hits in the middle of a fight with his first wife.

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman Take it Slow in Work and in Love  

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman are famous for creating iconic TV characters on two beloved sitcoms, "Will & Grace" and "Parks and Recreation." But they also have a life together off screen. They've been married since 2003, and Playboy magazine compared their comic chemistry to "that of a hyper-sexualized Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara." They talk to Here's the Thing host Alec Baldwin about struggling to launch their careers, why it took them so long to kiss, and how jigsaw puzzles, audio books, and carpentry keep their marriage strong.

Vogue's Grace Coddington Doesn't Want To Think Much About What She Wears  

These days, legendary fashion editor Grace Coddington tends to wear black—her way of remaining a “blank slate” at the fashion shoots she runs. But it wasn’t long ago that she herself was the vessel for the clothes. Born in the north of Wales in 1941, Coddington began modeling in London at age 18 and landed on the cover of British Vogue in 1962. Following a serious car crash that left one eyelid damaged, she was offered the position of junior fashion editor at British Vogue in 1968. After she rose up the ranks of the fashion world, Calvin Klein hired her as his design director in New York in 1987. But Coddington missed magazines. So she phoned her former colleague, Anna Wintour, then the new editor-in-chief of U.S. Vogue, who promptly appointed her its creative director. Over the next 30 years, Coddington would go on to help shape it into the most powerful fashion publication in the world before leaving in January 2016 to pursue her own projects. But despite her air-tight confident image, Grace Coddington is still the shy girl who, “rigid with nerves,” failed all her exams in high school. She talks to Alec Baldwin about the current state of fashion in America, the up and coming model she’s most excited to watch, and why dressing men makes her nervous.

Scott Chaskey is America's Favorite Farmer  

Farmer, poet, and pioneer of the community farming movement, Scott Chaskey is the kind of progressive thinker that doesn't come around often. Weaving together his passion for farming and prose, the 66-year-old has penned multiple books on the community farming movement, creating a road-map for Americans who want to live off the land as a community. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about deciding to “eat consciously,” watching his love for the earth go global, and the food his kids hid from him when they were little.  

Thelma Schoonmaker: Martin Scorsese's Secret Weapon  

Thelma Schoonmaker—with a face and demeanor like your favorite grade school teacher—may be the last person you’d imagine to helm the epic violence of Martin Scorsese’s films. Yet this earnest, soft spoken woman has edited every single movie he’s done since Raging Bull. The two’s relationship is considered one of the most successful working marriages in movie history, earning Schoonmaker three Academy Awards and seven nominations. But filmmaking wasn’t always the plan. She talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about Scorsese’s pet peeves, what it’s like to “create” violence, and the woman she credits with giving her the “greatest life in the world.”

John Turturro’s Mind at Work  

It’s hard to imagine John Turturro—an award-winning actor, director, and writer—feeling inadequate. But even today, the big-hearted 59-year-old says he’s “still learning” his craft. Raised by Italian working-class parents in Park Slope, Brooklyn, he majored in theatre at the State University of New York at New Paltz before winning a scholarship to the Yale School of Drama. In 1989 he soared to fame as Pino in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and has been steadily solidifying his role as a Hollywood superstar ever since. While balancing a kaleidoscope of roles, he’s managed to both write and direct his own movies—most recently the reimagining of a French film from the 70s. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about meeting his wife at Yale, playing James Gandolfini’s part in HBO’s The Night Of, and the crisis that almost convinced him to go to medical school.  

Check out video of Alec's conversation with John Turturro on Spike Lee and 'Do the Right Thing'.

The Wonderful Life of Debbie Reynolds  

Last month, as our listeners know, Debbie Reynolds died on December 28th – one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died, on December 27th. Alec talked to Debbie Reynolds over three years ago for Here’s The Thing. We always hoped he would sit down with Carrie too – perhaps with her mother. Sadly, this will never happen.

But as a tribute to both women, we are giving listeners a chance to relisten to Alec’s conversation with Debbie Reynolds – a woman with over 6 decades of experience in show business. She talks to Alec about her big break in Singing in the Rain. “I slept in my dressing room,” recalls Reynolds. “I didn't take any days off because I’d practice on Saturday and Sunday.” 

Reynolds went on to appear in Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown—and more recently, Mother. Reynolds talks about working with different directors and says she’s not one to hold a grudge, but warns that she does have a memory like an elephant.

Questlove Can't Take a Compliment  

Few musicians can compete with the encyclopedic musical knowledge that Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson possesses—which is great news if you got to be a student of his at NYU. When not teaching music history, the 45-year-old drummer is directing the Grammy-Award winning group The Roots—a hip hop collective that rose from “everyone’s favorite underground secret” in the late 90s to Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show. Whether drumming, DJ’ing, or writing a book on food, Questlove is universally beloved. “The coolest man on late night,” according to the Rolling Stone. But there is one thing this genius of music can’t do: accept that he is one. He talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about a three year exile in London, Jimmy Fallon wooing the Roots, and how meditation saved his life.

Patti Smith Never Wanted to Be Famous  

Patti Smith defined punk rock in 1978 with her hit song Because the Night, but the New Jersey native was never looking for fame. A lover of poetry, art, and creative expression, it was the desire to “do something great” that motivated her to move to New York at age 20—that, and hunger. The oldest daughter of a waitress and factory worker, she knew how to survive on little money. Making a lot of it, she says, was never part of her journey. But an astounding journey it’s been—one that’s sent her touring around the world, writing award-winning books, and marrying a musician with whom she had two kids. She talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about singing poetry with The Beats, getting saved from a bad date by Robert Mapplethorpe, and her love for 7/11’s glazed doughnuts.

Robbie Robertson Learned Music on an Indian Reservation  

At age 15, Robbie Robertson packed up his guitar and took a train from Canada to the Mississippi Delta—or as he calls it, the “holy land of rock n’ roll.” Inspired by his Mohawk relatives' musical talents, Robertson was determined to make his own mark on the music scene—and did. After playing backup for Bob Dylan’s 1966 world tour, he joined forces with other talented musicians to form a group humbly crowned: “The Band.” Operating out of a big pink house in New York, the lyrical genius and his band mates penned classics like The Weight—still considered a masterpiece today. As his new autobiography Testimony hits the shelves, Robertson talks to Here’s the Thing host Alec Baldwin about the Indian reservation where he first learned music, the makeshift basement studio where he wrote it, and the final performance that nearly got Martin Scorsese fired.

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose