February 13th, 2012, by

Newt Gingrich was one of the first political guests to be featured on Tavis Smiley when the program launched nine years ago.

The author, political consultant and 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives cited Ronald Reagan’s 1976 primary as the inspiration for his candidacy as the Republican Party presidential nominee. In the February 7, 2012 presidential primaries, Gingrich raked in 12.8% of voter support in Colorado and 10.8% in Minnesota, but, as of February 8, Gingrich is expected to fall behind contenders Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

In this 2010 conversation, he discusses the public perception that the Republican Party was not the only opposition to its Democratic counterparts, but also an obstruction to passing bills on the Hill. He also discusses the possibility of throwing his hat in the 2012 presidential race.

Watch the 2010 conversation and share your thoughts.

(View full post to see video)
February 13th, 2012, by

Taking a quick stroll down memory lane isn’t a bad thing.

In a world where breaking news changes faster than the blink of an eye, “A Look Back” will offer a chance to revisit past Tavis Smiley conversations. From politicians and entertainers, to athletes, authors and other newsmakers, we’ve got it all. As current events unfold, we will feature relevant guest interviews–straight from the vault.

First from the vault: Newt Gingrich.

February 10th, 2012, by

Check out images of and quotes from Connie Rice, Michel Hazanavicius, Wael Ghonim, Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer and Suze Orman.

Click on an image below to open the gallery.

All images by Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

January 30th, 2012, by

Russian protestor and activist Alexei Navalny Photo: Alexey Yushenkov

In the politically repressed country of Russia, many citizens are in social and political unrest due, in part, to the less than perfect policies of Vladimir Putin. The former president-turned-prime minister-turned political puppet master is at the center of the country’s unrest. His thirst for control over the Russian government has resulted in an acquisition of power that has now spanned more than a decade.

Seeking to restore stability and democratic change in the region through a firebrand crusade against Russia’s strong arm tactics is Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption lawyer and blogger. This Russian lawyer-turned-online whistle blower began to draw a following as he exposed the shady dealings and fraudulent activity at the hand of state-owned utilities and companies on the web for all to see.

While many see him as a modern day folk hero, he’s no angel. Some say his nationalistic views and ideology are too extreme, with others pointing out his ability to stir the spirit of civil protest while calling on others to take a stand. As a result of his activism, he’s seen as a threat to the Russian government. He’s been the target of character attacks, investigated by officials and was recently put in jail for his resistance at a protest rally.

Navalny’s actions are indicative of the new area of activism for rights that’s taking place globally. Whether in Tunisia, Egypt, parts of the Middle East or the Occupy movements of North America and around the world, issues of economic mobility, the police state and social unrest are at the forefront of people’s lives in these modern times.

Navalny’s efforts in shedding light on the corruption in Russia, along with his ability to channel the anger of the citizens that made his own government take notice, make him not only a force to be reckoned with, but, on a global scale, the newest protestor and blogger you should know.

January 30th, 2012, by

Image: Matthew Wedgewood via Wikimedia Commons

Occasionally, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I miss out on cool stuff when it happens. It is among my new year’s resolutions to minimize this still further, but such is the nature of the cool-hunt: sometimes you don’t get there first.

On that score, someone cooler than me recently brought to my attention an hilarious series of videos satirizing actress, model, former “it” girl and infamous hater of Canada, Chloe Sevigny.

“But, why is this funny?” you may be asking. Fair enough. Sevigny has a reputation for being the ultimate fashion scenester and, for reasons mysterious to me (and, evidently, many others), continues to be held aloft as some kind of 21st century super-muse. “So what’s wrong with that?” you ask. Nothing, really, except the fact that Chloe Sevigny is very serious about fashion, and people who take fashion really seriously are (and always have been) fertile ground for satire (see: Bruno et al.). Also, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Canada. I mean, what’s not to like?

Exhibit A:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-LRITaHUbI&w=560&h=315]

Now, please consider for comparison, Opening Ceremony x Chloe Sevigny. See? Funny, right?


January 29th, 2012, by

As I’ve no doubt said more than once in my bloggings, Deadwood was one of the best programs ever to grace the small screen. This is largely the doing of David Milch, the creator of NYPD Blue, who also wrote and executive-produced the show, imbuing it with incredible characters, inspired casting and singular, Shakespearean dialogue.

Milch’s latest project for HBO is the new series Luck, which premieres this week. Luck is set within the world of horse racing and packs some serious punch in its cast, led by Dustin Hoffman and including Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and Richard Kind, among other notables. Hoffman plays Chester “Ace” Bernstein, a convicted felon who re-enters society in the show’s first episode and immediately begins settling scores.

Milch himself is no stranger to the world of racing. He has owned several thoroughbreds over the years, and, as he recently told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, has been a devotee of the track since the age of five, when his father took him to his first race. From that interview:

“The first thing [my father] informed me was that he knew that I was a degenerate gambler…but it would be impossible for me to gamble because you had to be 18 to make a bet. On the other hand, he had arranged with the waiter, Max, to run my bets for me, and, therefore, I would be able to bet. And with that set of mixed messages, I was off.”

Milch’s follow up to Deadwood was the short-lived John from Cincinnati, a story about surfers and extra-terrestrial visitors, which while not without its merits (the opening music, courtesy of Joe Strummer, for one), was a bit too abstract for most, especially those expecting something akin to Deadwood. With Luck, however, between its stellar cast, subject matter close to Milch’s heart and producing help from Michael Mann, I’d wager he’s got a hit on his hands.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0G48f_kDik&w=560&h=315]

January 28th, 2012, by

Many were surprised by presidential nominee hopeful/open marriage advocate Newt Gingrich’s promise on Thursday to put a permanent settlement on the moon by the end of his second term, if elected. Indeed, some even questioned its validity, coming when it does during some of the worst economic times in American history. Others pointed out that it would actually be illegal, according to space law (which exists, apparently).

For the record, I’m against it. What America needs now is not a moon base. What America needs now is a kick-ass space colony like this one. Why? Because just look at it! Also, so the Chinese don’t build one first. Because nothing cures an epic recession like a good ol’ fashioned space race between the most powerful nations on the planet. What could possibly go wrong?

See more awesome pics of America’s forthcoming game-changing space colony over at Retronaut.


January 28th, 2012, by

While some journalists are content to investigate things like iPad factories and Mitt Romney’s tax situation, it’s heartening to know that there are still a few out there researching the real issues. Like, for instance, when exactly was Ice Cube’s famous “Good Day“?

According to Gawker, Murk Avenue’s Donovan Strain has not just undertaken this weighty assignment, but—after exhaustive cross-referencing of sporting events, weather, technology and media—actually discovered the date in question.

According to Strain:

The ONLY day where:
Yo MTV Raps was on air
It was a clear and smogless day
Beepers were commercially sold
Lakers beat the SuperSonics
and Ice Cube had no events to attend was…

JANUARY 20 1992

So there you have it, folks. We can put that one to rest. Or maybe not. Either way, darn good song.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWfbGGZE07M&w=560&h=315]

January 27th, 2012, by

Each week, we will bring you sights and sounds from our studio as guests sit in the chair to have a conversation with Tavis.

Our inaugural “Seen and Heard” is a special one, as it includes an image and quote from Tavis’ 2007 conversation with soul singer Etta James, who recently passed away in Los Angeles.

Check out images of and quotes from Sean Penn, Etta James, Terrence Howard, Kathleen Turner and Seal.

All images by Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.


January 23rd, 2012, by

January is National Mentoring Month. In honor of the occasion, we take a look at mentoring organization, WriteGirl.


Current WriteGirl mentees. Photo by Thomas Hargis.

This is my first year working as a staff member and writing mentor for WriteGirl – a creative writing and mentoring organization for teen girls, ages 13-18.

Every week, more than 75 professional women writers work one-on-one with girls on creative writing projects.

Every month, WriteGirl hosts a creative writing workshop for over 150 girls and professional women writers in all genres, including poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, songwriting, journalism, screenwriting, playwriting, persuasive writing, journal-writing, editing and more.

Every year, WriteGirl publishes an anthology of outstanding work, compiled throughout the school year, by both the mentees and their mentors.

On Sunday, January 15th,  we launched our award-winning, 10-year anniversary anthology, Intensity. In this new book, more than 140 teen girls and women writers from the L.A. area share their creative stories, poetry, lyrics, novel excerpts and perspectives.



“I know this girl. Her name
is Joanna, Mexican-Honduran
Beauty Queen, mother of one at fourteen
I know this girl. She made me chorizos,
she introduced me to my first pupusa,
she was the first girl I kissed.
I know her; she’s walking up right now
in a skin-tight black V-neck, skinny jeans
and Vans, eyeliner, a precise silhouette of her
top lid. I know Iris, palms sweaty,
hair crinkled with Aquanet hairspray and mousse.
I know mi hermana, my tan sister, a subdued,
superb shade of brown. I know Coralia, she
has Jose tattooed on her neck, her Baby Daddy, her love.
I know Barbie/Eeyore/Droopy/Bianca/Flaca/
Skittles, I know how R’s roll off her tongue,
I know the sound of one dollar rosaries
hitting her chest, I know the click clack
clang bang of her silver hoops, I know her.
She is my best friend; she is my childhood confidante.
She is old news, new tears.
Forgotten girl, formed by corroding,
rooftops, infantile screams,
menudo and premature motherhood.”

– J. Curtis, age 15 (excerpt from Intensity)


We are going, boldly, into our 11th season with many awards under our belt and a 100% success rate of our senior girls going to college!

On a personal note, our girls continue to be an endless inspiration to me. Shining when they read aloud, they find a place in the world.

Current WriteGirl mentees and alumna. Photo by Thomas Hargis.

When we held our mentee interview day in November, I was so pleased to see the girls come in, sit down, take an object to write about and work quietly. They were respectful of one another’s space and, when it came time to read their work, they all listened patiently, applauding when each reader concluded.

It gives me chills to recount that experience, for we have all been young, awkward teens, competing for space, and we all know how girls can be exceedingly cruel; however, there is something about WriteGirl that inspires camaraderie and human appreciation like I have never seen before. I dare say it is like they are on sacred ground.

Kids want guidance. They need mentors. No matter how much they may look at you like you are crazy, when their friends aren’t looking they will soften and say things like, “Is this good enough? I want to make sure it’s right.” To which I respond, “I let that question hold me back from experiencing my own writing for a long, long time. I don’t want you to fall into the same trap. There is no right, and there is no good enough. There is only what is right for YOU. If it comes out of YOU, it is right, and it is always good enough.”

This was a specific incident. The girl was a talented writer with beautiful penmanship and a want in her eyes to express herself.  To be heard. All she needed was a little cajoling.

And, most times, a little cajoling is all it takes. It is amazing how quickly the girls can go from being reticent, hiding behind their journals and saying they don’t have anything to say, to having a (friendly) rap battle across the room. I have seen it take less than 20 minutes! And THAT makes mentoring fun and rewarding for us all.

Mentoring has changed my life for the better. I found WriteGirl by doing a Volunteer Match search. If you  feel you have any wisdom to impart or just time to give someone an ear, I highly suggest being a mentor. You’ll be glad you did it.

Happy Mentoring Month!

Kari Adwell is the Events Coordinator at WriteGirl. She mentors (when time allows) with the In-Schools program offered by WriteGirl at Camp Scudder in Santa Clarita, CA. She is also an essayist and aspiring screenwriter. She too loves to read aloud. [Photo by Brad Carter Photography.]

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