Pop Culture Confidential

Pop Culture Confidential


Host Christina Jeurling Birro interviews the most innovative and influential people working in television, film, entertainment and pop culture. http://www.popcultureconfidential.com


Episode 59: Steven Knight, Screenwriter of ‘Allied’  

A Canadian spy, a French resistance fighter, and a love story set in the Sahara desert? Academy-Award nominated screenwriter Steven Knight has spent thirty-odd years bringing the new blockbuster ‘Allied’ starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard to the big screen. In those thirty years Knight has been busy writing critically acclaimed films like ‘Dirty pretty Things’ for which he was Oscar nominated, Eastern Promises, Pawn Sacrifice, and the upcoming sequel to ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – just to name a few. Knight has also been busy with the hugely popular BBC/ Netflix TV series Peaky Blinders and the upcoming FX mini-series Taboo starring Tom Hardy. This week host Christina Jeurling Birro is joined by Steven Knight to discuss the decades long journey to making ‘Allied’ with director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Flight”), including the original inspiration for the plot. The World War II drama is inspired by the classic films like ‘Casablanca’ and tells the story of an intelligence officer and resistance fighter, who fall in love during a mission to kill a German official in 1942. They fall in love, have a child and settle down to a fairly normal life – until they are mortally set against each other when their identities are revealed. Knight also shares his journey as a screenwriter, how Brad Pitt inspired him to bring ‘Allied’ to the big screen, Peaky Blinders, his upcoming projects – and much more!

Episode 58: Dr. Jessica Coon ‘Arrival’ & Vinzenz Kiefer ‘Jason Bourne’  

Aliens, hackers and awesome prizes on this week’s episode! First we speak to Dr. Jessica Coon, a linguistic professor who was tapped by Hollywood to help Amy Adams communicate with aliens for the new blockbuster ‘Arrival’. We are also joined by German actor Vinzenz Kiefer, who took on Jason Bourne as hacker Christian Dassault.

Episode 57: Morgan Spurlock, director of “Rats”  

Disgusting vermin multiplying before our eyes, threatening to take over modern civilization. No, we are not referencing the recent US Presidential election but the unsettling new documentary “Rats” that takes us deep into the infestation of rats around the world. Our host Christina Jeurling Birro is joined this week by the films director Morgan Spurlock who also brought us Freakonomics, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden and Oscar nominated Super Size Me for which he gained 25 pounds eating only McDonald’s for a month.

Episode 56: Star of Atlanta – Brian Tyree Henry  

Race, sexual politics, masculinity, friendship and parenthood – the new FX TV show Atlanta tackles all of these subjects with uncompromising honesty and humour. This week host Christina Jeurling Birro is joined by one of the shows stars - Brian Tyree Henry who gives a powerful performance on the show as Paper Boi, a rising-star of the Atlanta rap scene.

Episode 55: Joe Swanberg, creator of ‘Easy’ on Netflix  

This week host Christina Jeurling Birro is joined by Joe Swanberg – maybe one of the hardest working filmmakers in the indie world with 29 director credits to his name at the age of 35. His work has been at the center of the mumblecore film movement that has also included the Duplass brothers, Lena Dunham and many more. Often low budget, featuring naturalistic dialogue and relationship focused, his films like Digging for Fire, Happy Christmas and Drinking Buddies have attracted talent like Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick, Jack Johnson and Olivia Wilde. Swanberg has been called an American auteur and critics have compared him to Lars von Trier and even Ingmar Bergman. His latest project Easy, Netflix for which he is the creator, writer and director, is probably more mainstream than his previous work, but does not stray away from his usual themes. Each episode focuses on a different relationship and stars Marc Maron, Dave Franco, Malin Akerman, Orlando Bloom, Hannibal Buress, and many more. Don’t miss this portrait interview with Swanberg where he shares his work process, how he includes his own life and family into his films, what it’s like to punch a critic, why he hates movie awards - and much more!

Episode 54: 'Life, Animated' director Roger Ross Williams and The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang  

We are joined Oscar winning director Roger Ross Williams whose inspiring documentary 'Life, Animated' tells the story of Owen Suskind, an autistic boy whose family discovered he was communicating with them thru the Disney films he was watching and The Playlist's Jessica Kiang guides us through some of the biggest trends and controversies of the film season.

Episode 53: Cynthia Nixon  

Emmy award winning actress, active spokesperson for fair funding of public schools, breast-cancer survivor and ambassador Susan G. Komen For The Cure – Cynthia Nixon is just as powerful as the amazing kaleidoscope of characters she has portrayed. For most of us, she is best known for playing the glamorous lawyer Miranda on the iconic series Sex and the City, a role that still resonates with viewers today. Her most recent role is a spot-on portrayal of Nancy Reagan in the National Geographic movie Killing Reagan. Based on the best selling book of the same name, the movie also stars West Wing alum Tim Matheson as Ronald Reagan. The story centers on the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981 by John Hinckley, Jr. – an event that rocked the world and forever changed the security protocols for any US President. We are honored to speak with Nixon about Nancy Reagan’s legacy, how she is similar to her character Miranda, how surviving breast cancer has changed her, and much more.

Episode 52: The Politics of Funny  

Politics, power, and comedy. We speak with David Litt, former senior presidential speechwriter for Barack Obama and head writer/producer at “Funny or Die” DC, and author Rudolph Herzog who’s book “Dead Funny” documents humor in Hitler’s Third Reich.

Episode 51: The Legacy of Oliver Stone & the Doc that Shocked  

Critic and author Matt Zoller Seitz spent 100 hours interviewing Oliver Stone for his new book “The Oliver Stone Experience” and he joins us this week to tell all. Then we speak to director David Farrier about his documentary that shocked at Sundance. “Tickled” dives into a mysterious tickling competition online and Farrier shares the deep resistance he faced when trying to document a story stranger than fiction.

Episode 50: Fall Movie Preview & Facing Escobar  

The Fall movie lineup is upon us and we speak to Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune’s film critic, to get his recommendations and early Oscar contenders. We also speak with Javier Peña, the real DEA agent that helped bring down the murderous drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Episode 49: Pop Culture Confidential Fall TV Preview  

The Fall TV season is here! NPR TV Citric Eric Deggans guides us through the new shows, trends, hits and misses, to give us his recommendations. The season offers a mixed bag of genres with a lot of 70’s and 80’s nostalgia, which includes a MacGyver reboot on CBS and the series The Exorcist, starring Geena Davis, based on the iconic film. We also discuss the much-awaited Netflix superhero Luke Cage, which of the political satire shows will stand out in their election coverage, and is it possible to have carpool karaoke without James Corden? Deggans weighs in on The Get Down, This is Us, Bull, The Good Place and much, much more!

Episode 48: Stranger Things - The Breakout Summer TV hit  

The big talk of the Summer TV season (and one of our favorite shows) is the Netflix original drama Stranger Things, a show that transports us back to 1983. On this weeks show speak to breakout star Shannon Purser who plays fan favorite Barb on the show, and veteran prop master Lynda Reiss who has been able to capture the 1980’s to a tee. Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is an eight part series starring Winona Ryder and Mathew Modine, but the story centers on a group of 12 year-olds and a supporting group of teenagers all played by an absolutely superb bunch of new actors. Shannon Purser plays Barbara Holland or Barb, the best friend of popular girl Nancy Wheeler, and she fantastically embodies the outspoken and intelligent character that we all identify with. Her performance has created what’s being called Barb-mania, with fans creating memes, fan art – even painting murals of her. Set in a small Indiana town, the show follows the disappearance of a young boy, uncovers a dark conspiracy and a scary monster along the way. The other star of the show is 1980’s American pop culture – everything from the opening credits, the music and the loving attention to details in the props plays homage to films of the era. Lynda Reiss is the prop master on the show and she has created a veritable time capsule of the 80’s with trapper keepers, BMX bikes and some wonderful fashion. Reiss shares with us how she approaches a period piece like this, her work on American Beauty and the elaborate prop work on True Detective, and much more.

Episode 47: Director Paul Feig, Ghostbusters  

Welcome to our Summer Pop Culture Confidential special! We are thrilled to talk to Paul Feig, the director of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and someone we have been wanting to talk to for a long time. With this years huge Summer release Paul Feig has taken on one of the most beloved comedy franchises: Ivan Reitman’s 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and a host of other comedy and acting greats. It is also his biggest project to date, massive in every way - from production to the audience expectations. Feig and co-screenwriter Katie Dippold have not written a continuation of the original Ghostbusters storyline but created new characters with their own origin story. The cast includes some of the best comic actors working today - Melissa McCarthy and SNL alumni Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. We speak to Feig about the unexpected reaction to the all female cast of the Ghostbusters reboot, his continuing work for greater female representation in both TV and film, Freeks and Geeks, and the fantastic story behind his jump to becoming a full-time stand up comedian at the start of his career.

Episode 46: Melissa Silverstein & Matt Zoller Seitz  

On this weeks episode we dive into some of the most talked about, and difficult, topics in pop culture today. Melissa Silverstein, founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, discusses the much too slow progress for women in Hollywood and the backlash towards the upcoming female driven Ghostbusters reboot. And we speak to critic Matt Zoller Settz on how he approaches Woody Allen’s films today, post allegations. We have seen some serious ticket sales for female driven blockbusters such as Twilight and The Hunger Games. So the backlash towards women busting ghosts has been surprising, and the hatred expressed on social media shocking. We ask Silverstein – has the landscape in Hollywood actually changed for women? As of late, there have been some touchy topics, hard conversations and sadness in the pop culture community. It has become difficult as an audience member, as a fan, to come to terms with a filmmaker, artist or public figure accused of a horrific act. From Woody Allen to Johnny Depp, there are many examples of this occurring. One of the reasons we wanted to speak to Matt Zoller Seitz was his very honest article titled “I believe Dylan Farrow” which explained the complexity of being a film critic and separating the art from the artist once allegations have been made or confirmed. We explore all of these topics and much more in this very important episode.

Episode 45: Going Full Frontal with Miles Kahn  

No one is covering the issues, and in particular the 2016 US Presidential election, quite like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The shows Executive Producer, and a former Producer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Miles Kahn joins us this week to share what makes the show so successful and entertaining. Last year Jon Stewart left late night TV just before what may be the most absurd election to date. Luckily we were given something magical to replace the void. Samantha Bee was a twelve-year veteran correspondent of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart who was tapped to become one of the few women to host on late night. The show airs on TBS and the segments are smart, brave and super funny! Miles Kahn was a Senior Producer at The Daily Show for nearly ten years and in our opinion he perfected the art of the field piece, which included reports and interviews done by correspondents out of the studio. These pieces became the core of The Daily Show and now Full Frontal. He has produced legendary pieces for John Oliver, Jason Jones, Wyatt Cenac and of course Samantha Bee.

Episode 44: Outcast’s Patrick Fugit and Reg E. Cathey  

Anticipation for the TV show “Outcast” has been mounting since it was debuted at SXSW and was immediately renewed for a second season. The series has a stellar cast including our guests - prolific actor Reg E. Cathey, who is know for his work on The Wire, OZ and House of Cards, for which he won an Emmy, and Patrick Fugit who is know for his memorable performances in Almost Famous and Gone Girl. Robert Kirkman, creator of the hit show “The Walking Dead”, helms the series about Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a young man who has been plagued by possession since he was a child, who with the help of a local reverend, tries to uncover what lies behind the horror and supernatural manifestations to rebuild himself and his family. We are very excited to speak to both Reg E. Cathey and Patrick Fugit about the show, their previous work, their process in creating such memorable characters on screen and much more! Outcast premieres in the US on Cinemax on June 3rd and in Sweden on FOX Monday June 6th.

Episode 43: Behind of Scenes of The Late Late Show  

In just 15 months British actor, comedian and Broadway star James Corden has reinvented the late night TV format with The Late Late Show on CBS. For example, his ‘Carpool Karaoke’ segment with Adele is the most-viewed late night TV clip in social media history with over 102 million views to date! On this weeks episode Late Late Show writer Lauren Greenberg joins us to share what makes the show so successful. Greenberg has been with the show since the beginning and wrote the first segment on the very first show in which Corden and Tom Hanks did a hilarious reenactment of Hanks career in six minutes! For anyone following the late night TV lineup – the last two years has turned the scene upside down with the number of changes in the lineup on the major networks. James Corden was considered an unusual choice to replace Craig Ferguson on the show, as he was pretty unknown to US audiences. But quickly he and his amazing writing team have created some of the most viral hits online, with literally billions of views. The show is already getting Emmy nomination buzz and we wish them the best of luck!

Episode 42: Becoming Meryl Streep  

The newly released best selling book 'Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep’, tells the origin story of arguably the most talented actor of her generation! Author, journalist and biographer Michael Schulman joins us on Pop Culture Confidential. Meryl Streep has 19 oscar nominations and 3 wins for her truly iconic performances that range from movies such as ‘Kramer vs Kramer’, ‘Sophie's Choice’, ‘The Devil wears Prada’, and ’The Iron Lady’, just to name a few. New Yorker journalist Michael Schulman did years of research and conducted over 80 interviews with Streep's friends and colleagues for his biography of her life. We talk about her school years where she was already burning with willpower and ambition, her passionate but tragic love story with ‘Godfather’ & ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ actor John Cazale. As well as her Hollywood breakthrough and first Oscar win for ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’, where she played Joanna, a woman who leaves her marriage and young son for over a year and returns to a bitter custody battle. Putting it mildly - costars Streep and Dustin Hoffman did not get along. Join us for this conversation about her life and the performances that formed one of our greatest actors!

Episode 41: From Jaws to Dory – The Summer Blockbuster Season  

What movie will take the summer box office this year? Will it be “The Legend of Tarzan”? “Captain America: Civil War”? Or will it be “Finding Dory”? In the summer of 1975, Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” broke all kinds of records and the Summer Blockbuster was established. May marks the start of Hollywood’s busiest season – so grab your popcorn as Pop Culture Confidential takes a look at the Summer Movies with Ben Fritz, reporter for The Wall Street Journal. “Jaws” is still credited as the first Summer Blockbuster, earning $14 million in its first week – incredible numbers at the time. Since then “Star Wars”, “Jurassic Park”, “Top Gun”, and “Batman” have been just some of the huge summer hits for this all-important Hollywood season. This summer we look forward to “Tarzan”, “X-Men Apocalypse”, the Ghostbusters reboot, and the return of Dory in “Finding Dory”, Pixar’s sequel to the 2003 hit “Finding Nemo” and much more!

Episode 40: The Incredible History of Wonder Woman  

The lie detector test, bondage, feminism and superpowers – welcome to the fascinating world of Wonder Woman and her creator William M. Marston, a Harvard educated psychologist, lawyer, inventor and comic book creator. With the recent release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ we get a first glimpse of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman before her own upcoming blockbuster is released in 2017. The character is legendary – from the impact of the comic in the 1940’s and the success of the TV version in the 70’s starring Lynda Carter, but her creator has had an equally amazing life. We spoke with comic book historian, and author of the comprehensive ‘Wonder Woman Unbound’ Tim Hanley about the legacy of Wonder Woman and Marston’s life – from his contributions to the modern polygraph, which became part of the Wonder Woman legend as her lasso of truth, his polyamorous relationship with two woman, and how his strong feminist beliefs coupled with a fascination of bondage became main themes in the Wonder Woman comics – and much more!

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