‘Martin Luther King, I remember in a speech he said, ‘If you can do something, do it,’ in times of crisis, which this is. If you can write a speech, write a book, sing a song, anything, do it. Don’t just sit there.’ – Guitarist Ry Cooder, on the need to be proactive, particularly in politics
‘L.A. is infectious. Once you’re here for very long, it’s a weightier place than what people realize, too.’ – Singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam, on how he was drawn to Los Angeles, the place he called home for the last 30 years
‘…after that experience I understood the importance of life past death. Before that, I didn’t get that. Moving forward, I just, sometimes, blunt honesty is going to hurt a group of people, including myself, including a lot of others. But history will tell a story if you don’t tell it yourself, and as much as we give life value is as quick as we will leave Earth.’ – Singer-songwriter-activist Wyclef Jean, on his firsthand experience of the devastation in Haiti and his memoir
‘Abraham Lincoln said, ‘A house divided cannot stand.’ We’re divided by money, power. We’ve stopped thinking of America as a family. We’re in this together...We’ve got to bring it back home.’ - Journalist-producer Hedrick Smith, on America’s need for unity
‘…ultimately, the campaign is the construct of the candidate…The candidate should be the person deciding on what the message of the day is…I don’t think you can say, ‘Well, the candidate’s good but the campaign’s bad.’ If one is good, the other is typically good. If one is bad, the other is typically bad. They follow one another directly.’ – 'The Washington Post' managing editor, Chris Cillizza, on politics and the presidential election
‘I’ve always thought of characters like advent calendars...you have all the little doors over the windows and every day you’re allowed to open one more as it gets towards Christmas and you see more and more about what’s inside that house. I try to let the audience do that with the character, so you keep some things in and slowly let them out...’ – Actor Jeremy Irons, on being an enigmatic actor
‘…friends of mine were calling me up very angry with me that they were rooting for this guy. Of course I was delighted by that, because it means you’re identifying. It’s holding up a mirror, somehow, that it’s not a sociopath; it’s us we’re watching.’ – Actor-activist Richard Gere, on the reactions from his friends about his role in ‘Arbitrage’
‘I was stunned by this kid who basically was like fully owning her past…she was talking about her youth like she was talking about the good old days the way we talked about James Taylor back in the day or bell-bottoms or a shag or something that happened to you in the past. The idea that my daughter who was little, who was four, had a past was astonishing to me because she was so little to me. She was just a baby.’ – Actress-author Jamie Lee Curtis, on the inspiration for her children’s books
‘He’s a great guy. I wouldn’t have a career without him. He told me go have lunch with this person; go take acting classes from this person. I said, ‘Mommy wants me to change my name.’ He said, ‘Why?’ ‘Because she doesn’t want me to embarrass the family.’ He said, ‘Don’t listen to her, she’s nuts.’ He called her nuts too. – Actress-director-producer Penny Marshall, on how her brother, Garry, jump started her career and their mutual feelings about their mother, as detailed in the memoir, ‘My Mother Was Nuts’
‘It’s okay to lose. Losing teaches you something. Having to try and going through the trials and tribulations to actually overcome, to get there to win, to triumph, that’s what makes life interesting.’ – Actress-producer Elizabeth Banks, on the human tendency to be competitive, as seen in the film ‘Pitch Perfect’
‘My vision is to elevate the consciousness of humanity one mind, one heart, one life, one spirit at a time…and I am not seeking anything but service to my creator. So as long as I stay committed to that vision, share the gifts God gave me, hey, I can’t fail. Failing, as Eminem said, is not an option.’ – TV show host Iyanla Vanzant, on her faith in OWN and her commitment to the network’s vision
‘…my life kind of unfortunately became interesting, and there was clearly a story there which was oddly exciting…I knew that, which is why I kept a journal all those years, and I hoped – I wasn’t even sure that there would be a time when I’d be able to tell the story. There’s a bit of me that worried that something terrible would happen and I wouldn’t be the person telling the story.’ – Author Salman Rushdie, on writing autobiographies
‘…the thing that really strikes me is the emotional grind...But what really happens is that now, you show the kid you care...Well, that gives the kid license to open up to you, and they tell you stories that’ll crush you. I’ve got a couple of stories in there that you go home and you have to sit and just veg to try to come down from this emotional stuff.’ – Actor Tony Danza, on teachers also playing the roles of mother, father, social worker, best friend and confidant
And, closing out this installment of Seen & Heard, actor Keanu Reeves discusses the artist’s ambition, and actress Kyra Sedgwick shares her thoughts on acceptance and politics.
All images by Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.
‘…people should see your faith. If all you do is talk about your faith and people don’t see it, but they ought to see it in the way you treat your family, you treat your friends, you treat your community, and that’s the thing I kind of loved about this show.’ – Comedian and TV host Jeff Foxworthy, on why he enjoys hosting ‘America’s Bible Challenge’
‘It’s just a little scary to be such a big part of something…My own biggest obstacle has been sort of believing in myself and believing that I’m deserving.’ – Actress Melanie Lynskey, on her first starring role in a feature-length film
‘…actually I bear none of [our country’s enemies] any ill will at all, in fact, including the people shooting at us…You know, in a war, you don’t kill individual, you know, pop-up targets. You kill brothers and fathers and mothers and daughters and that’s how the game works.’ – War veteran Brian Castner on his the lasting effects of war and his experience fighting in Iraq
‘The flood gave this opportunity to start over…I think there’s a lot of negative and some positive that goes with it.’ – Writer-filmmaker Daniel Wolff, while describing his latest text, ‘The Fight for Home’
‘The West is a place of hope. It’s a hard-won hope and many times, of course, that hope isn’t reached at all, it just turns into a phantasmagorical nightmare.’ – Writer Ruben Martinez on the binaries that occur in the West and how they reflect American history, amplified
‘The ambition to go further imagistically, to do the more impossible…There’s so much to look at, to watch. So the visual storytelling literacy is harder to impress.’ – Actor Keanu Reeves on the challenges of modern storytelling and filmmaking
‘I think that people who live in New York and Los Angeles have a narrower view of the way people behave, of what’s important to people…race, of acceptance of abortion and women’s rights…I think that there’s a huge difference between what people politically believe and what interests people in Los Angeles and what interests people in New York and what they believe politically. It’s just a very different – and I think to ignore that is really cutting yourself out of a huge part of the population.’ – Actress Kyra Sedgwick, on the political views of individuals within the entertainment industry
With the close of September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, and the previous week’s Republican National Convention, it is safe to say that the race for the presidency is heating up.
The RNC featured many familiar faces, such as former GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and Florida’s Jeb Bush, who defended his brother, George W. Actor Clint Eastwood engaged in a simulated dialogue with a chair (which stood in for President Obama) and Paul Ryan joked about the differences in iPod playlists between himself and his running mate. Finally, Mitt Romney accepted the GOP nomination for president.
The DNC featured moving speeches from former president Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama…The DNC also had its own share of celebrity sightings, from actresses Kerry Washington, Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman. Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords led the pledge of allegiance while the crowd cheered her name. And President Barack Obama accepted his nomination for reelection.
Both conventions touched upon issues of the economy, unemployment, education, health care and more.
Here’s a round up of some of our political guests during the weeks of the national conventions and their insights on the 2012 Election.
‘Americans today, many of them, have given up on politics. They say nothing can change…But if we get into that kind of cynicism, then the special interests, the money interests, win everything. The only way we can get our economy back and our democracy back for ordinary people is if we as citizens understand that we’ve got to be active.’ – Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on the importance of voters to become re-energized and proactive
‘… I love this country and it’s a great country, it may be the best country in the world, but the best country in the world needs every other country today to solve the kinds of problems we have with terrorism, with global warming, with global technologies, with pandemics, with terrorism.’ – Political theorist Benjamin Barber on the importance of global interdependence and a sense of community worldwide
‘There is no question this is the worst campaign ever, and what makes it harder is that this is a time when what happens in politics really matters. These are not plateau times when we’re just electing a president to preside over the good times and preside over our prosperity. This is a time when the very American dream is at stake.’ – Political commentator Arianna Huffington on why she believes this is the worst presidential campaign in her experience
‘[People] think that just because they want Obama to win that they can’t pull him in the direction of tens of millions of desperately deprived and economically suppressed working Americans. Well, that means Obama can take all of you for granted, not even look back, because he knows he’s got your vote…Put demands on the people that you’re going to vote, and put demands on the people that you’re going to vote against.’ – Consumer advocate Ralph Nader on the need for voters to fully exercise their rights and demands on presidential candidates
‘I don’t think Mitt Romney’s going to beat Obama in a personality contest…But I do think he can beat him in a performance contest.’ - Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on his former opponent, Mitt Romney
‘…if we don’t do a better job in appealing to those nontraditional constituencies, we will never become the natural majority.’ – Former congressman J.C. Watts on Jack Kemp’s argument that the Republican Party can possibly become nonexistent
‘To connect to voters in that way would be huge for [Mitt Romney], but he will not go there. He thinks this election is just about the economy. The economy, the economy, the economy.’ – CBN’s David Brody on the narrow scope of the Romney campaign
‘The moral issue is are we as a country of many, many, many rich people going to allow our poor people to live in such terrible conditions as they live?...I don’t think we can just write a check to all of them to go live in Beverly Hills, but I think we can make it possible for them to have an education so they can change their lives.’ – Economist Ben Stein on the need to spend money on education and resources for the poor
His trademark monotonous, “Wow,” bookended Clear Eyes advertisements throughout the 1990s. (see video below)
He was host of Win Ben Stein’s Money, a seven-time Emmy-winning quiz show on Comedy Central that aired from 1997-2002.
The Wall Street Journal, the now-defunct The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, King Features Syndicate, Barrons, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Magazine, E! Online, The American Spectator, The New York Times Sunday Business Section, Yahoo! Personal Finance and Newsmax Media all boasted his byline. Furthermore, he is a commentator for CBS’ Sunday Morning and Fox News.
Why He’s Buzzing | A follow-up to 2004′s How to Ruin Your Financial Life, Stein’s latest text, How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio, will be released in October 2012.
A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School class of 1962, Stein’s classmate was journalist Carl Bernstein. Actress Goldie Hawn graduated from the same high school in 1963.
According to his bio, he was a speechwriter and lawyer in 1973 and 1974 for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he did not write the line, “I am not a crook.”
Stein’s Hollywood career launched with his role in 1986′s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. His economics lecture was unscripted, as he pulled from his own knowledge and experience.
His resume includes working as an economist at the Department of Commerce as a poverty lawyer, a trial lawyer in trade regulation at the Federal Trade Commission, a university adjunct at American University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and at Pepperdine University. He has taught about the political and social content of mass culture, political and civil rights under the Constitution, libel law, securities law and ethical issues.
He is the only actor to appear in The Mask, Son of the Mask and the animated TV series The Mask as Dr. Arthur Neuman, according to his IMDB profile.
Despite his onscreen persona, Stein received the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2008 Entertainment Merchants Association’s Home Entertainment Awards for being outspoken on his economic and political beliefs.
Selection of written works and projects
1978 On the Brink: A Novel 1978 Dreemz 1979 The View from Sunset Boulevard: America as Brought to You by the People Who Make Television 1988 Hollywood Days, Hollywood Nights: the Diary of a Mad Screenwriter 1992 A License to Steal: the Untold Story of Michael Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation 2002 How to Ruin Your Life 2003 How to Ruin Your Love Life 2004 How to Ruin Your Financial Life 2004 Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth and What to Do About It 2005 Yes, You Can Still Retire Comfortably: The Baby-Boom Retirement Crisis and How to Beat It 2008 How to Ruin the United States of America 2012 How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio
1984 The Wild Life 1986 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 1987-1990 Charles in Charge (TV series, four episodes)
1989-1991 The Wonder Years (TV series, 12 episodes)
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas 1993 Dennis the Menace 1993 Full House (TV series, two episodes)
1995 Casper 1995 Married with Children (TV series, one episode)
1997 Seinfeld (TV series, one episode)
1998 Breakfast with Einstein 2004-2008 The Fairly OddParents (TV series, voice, seven episodes)
2006-2008 The Emperor’s New School (TV series, voice, eight episodes)
2003-2009 Family Guy (TV series, two episodes)
2013 The Engagement Ring
Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.
Airdate | Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Hometown | Born in Beirut, Lebanon
Why You (Should) Know Him
He garnered cult fame through the Bill & Ted film franchise with his portrayal of Theodore “Ted” Logan.
The science fiction action films of The Matrix trilogy featured him as computer hacker Neo.
Why He’s Buzzing | Reeves narrates and produces Side by Side, a documentary that analyzes the past and future of filmmaking. He’s also making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, slated for 2013.
While direct translations vary, his name Reeves was from his uncle, Henry Keanu Reeves. The name “Keanu” is a derivation from the name Keaweaheulu (his great-great uncle), which loosely means “the soft breeze raising” or “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian.
Upon first arriving in Hollywood, Reeves’ agent thought the name “Keanu” might be too exotic. This resulted in his early credits as K.C. Reeves, Norman Kreeves or Chuck Spadina.
According to his IMDB profile, Reeves was not an avid high school student, but compensated for it with his skills on the ice rink. He played the position of goalie for his ice hockey team and earned the nickname “The Wall.”
In the 1989 auditions for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves and Alex Winter were paired up—Winter auditioned for the role of Ted and Reeves for the role of Bill. Each actor was cast, but in the opposite part for which they auditioned.
The Simpsons character Jimbo Jones is based on the character, Ted, from the Bill & Ted franchise.
In October 1997, he ranked #23 of “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All time” in UK’s Empire magazine.
He deferred a portion of his salary for The Devil’s Advocate to ensure that Al Pacino would be cast, which he did again for The Replacements to cast Gene Hackman.
He reportedly learned over 200 martial arts moves in his training for 2003′s The Matrix Reloaded.
Selection of Honors/Awards
1986 River’s Edge
1988 Dangerous Liaisons
1989 Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1991 Point Break
1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula
1994 Speed (nominated for MTV Movie Awards for Best Kiss, Best Male Performance and Most Desirable Male; nominated for Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor; won MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen duo with Sandra Bullock)
1995 Johnny Mnemonic
1997 The Devil’s Advocate
1999 The Matrix
2000 The Replacements
2001 Sweet November
2003 The Matrix Reloaded (nominated for MTV Movie Award for Best Fight and Best Kiss)
2003 The Matrix Revolutions
2006 The Lake House
2010 Henry’s Crime
2013 47 Ronin
2013 Man of Tai Chi
Brooklyn-based artist Henry Hargreaves is known for his strange, funny, utterly original still lifes. For instance, his Toast Icons series saw Hargreaves create lifelike portraits of celebrities using only strategically burned pieces of toasted bread (about 900 per portrait!). His Bacon Alphabet was a painstaking creation that’s more or less self-descriptive, except for the incredible detail of the letters, and the bizarreness of the idea itself.
One of Hargreaves’ most recent works is his Deep Fried Gadgets series, in which the artist batters bits of electronic paraphernalia (iPods, laptops, mobile phones, earbuds) and fries them to a crispy golden brown. Is it a comment on the nature of consumerism? On America’s batter-centric food culture? On the fleeting nature of technology, which seems to have about the same lifespan as a batch of McDonald’s French fries? It’s fun to think about, and probably the most original idea you’ll see all day.
From The New York Times comes this fascinating infographic video comparing Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt with 100m champs as far back as 1896. The take away? Usain Bolt is very, very fast. The U.S. pretty much had a lock on sprinting gold until the recent rise of Caribbean champs like Bolt. Also, America’s fastest 8-and-under sprinter could have almost won bronze in the first modern Olympics.
One of the great stylists of contemporary American prose, Gore Vidal passed away on July 31, 2012 at his Hollywood Hills home from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.
Born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, the novelist, playwright and occasional actor was found to be, at times, controversial and outspoken on topics in pop culture and politics. He sat down with us in November 2006 to discuss what was then his newest book, Point to Point Navigation, a follow-up to his ’95 memoir Palimpsest. Read the transcript of the 2006 conversation here.
Vidal’s recent passing is the loss of one of 20th-century America’s most important writers.
“Age is just a series of calamities. But being dead is no worse than not being born. I enjoyed not being born. In fact, probably enjoyed that more than I have being born. So, it can’t be any worse. So it’s not to be feared. Death is nothing.”
We all have our passions. And we all have different methods in which we strengthen our crafts. Actor Elijah Wood, singer Eddie Levert and architect Frank Gehry discuss how they work on their gifts.
In life, we learn lessons and we hope to share them with the world and leave our mark on history. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich discusses what her parents taught her as a child.
Journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran shares his views on the war in Afghanistan. Chef Marcus Samuelsson discusses a tragic moment that ended in irony. In both cases, it’s proven that hindsight can indeed be 20/20. And singer Glenn Frey discusses the mark the Eagles left on history and in the memories of their fans.
Actor Dwight Henry talks about the New Orleans state of mind, which is a result of historical events and a newfound resilience against hardship.
Check out the gallery below to see notable quotes from some of July guests.
All images by Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.
‘It’s a tough country, but progressives don’t accomplish anything by biting their tongues and not pushing.’ – Salon.com columnist Joan Walsh, on how a president cannot be progressive without a progressive Congress
‘…we want to show that that’s what the Christian plight is really about, is changing, getting better. It take a little time, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Stop judging.’ – Comedian-actor Cedric the Entertainer, on how some show content can be deemed controversial in the Christian community
‘…you must treat the instrument like it’s a precious instrument that it is. You must get rest, and you must treat it like it is God’s gift to you, and you must cherish it and also try to nurse it and make it something that is very special.’ – O’Jays front man Eddie Levert on taking care of his vocal cords
‘I call it the moment of truth when the artist faces a white canvas…It’s intuitive and it’s – if I know what I’m going to do in advance, I would discard it. So if I’m consciously, I walk away from it.’ – Iconic architect Frank Gehry, on how his approach to his artistic design has to flow, rather than be calculated
‘My mom and my dad…taught me the greatest gifts we have are our family, our health and the right to clean water and good land. If you think about it, none of us can take it with us when we’re gone. It’s what we leave that’s gonna matter.’ – Environmental activist Erin Brockovich on the best lesson her parents taught her
‘…we did too much. We committed too many troops, we committed too much money, and we haven’t really achieved the sort of sustainable result, achieved the sort of peace that we’d like to see over there.’ - Washington Post associate editor Rajic Chandrasekaran, on the war in Afghanistan
‘So it’s funny in life, the worst thing that can ever possibly happen to you could also be helpful in a way. That was our ticket out, right?’ – Chef Marcus Samuelsson on how his mother’s death led to being adopted into a new life in Sweden
‘…somebody once said something really interesting to me. They said, ‘People didn’t just listen to the Eagles. They did things to the Eagles.’ They broke up with their girlfriend, they got in a car with a bunch of guys and drove from Chicago to California. They asked somebody out that they never had the nerve to. You know what I’m saying?’ – The Eagles founding member Glenn Frey, on why the band’s music stands still has fans whether or not they are on tour
‘The more things that we go through, the tougher we get. The more storms that we face, the tougher we get…people don’t understand sometimes when a hurricane come, we have a party. We was partying before you decided to come and interrupt our lives, and we’re going to continue on doing this.’ – Actor Dwight Henry on how he feels New Orleans residents have a different resiliency against tragedy
‘I am all things love right now. I’m a lover, not a fighter…I’m saying a lot of our kids are watching reality. That’s not love.’ – ‘The Soul Man’ actress Niecy Nash, on how she chose to be a part of a show that displays married love
‘So I think that, as my friend Steve Prince would say, when I die, the obituary will say ‘Today the dy-no-mite fizzled.’’ – Comedian and ‘Good Times’ actor Jimmie Walker, on how he will doubtfully be able to escape his famous catchphrase
‘So it’s deeply, deeply troubling. It’s just hard to stay unemotional about this case.’ –NCAA President Mark Emmert on his feelings after researching the Penn State case
Cedric the Entertainer, Niecy Nash and Eddie Levert stop to pose for a quick shot in the Tavis Smiley green rooms.
While you may not recognize the name Ed Helms, the actor and comedian’s face will be familiar from The Office, The Hangover(s) and Cedar Rapids, among many others. But did you know that Helms is also a banjo enthusiast (and he’s also pretty good on guitar)? Apart from playing in the bluegrass group, The Lonesome Trio, which he started with two friends in college, Helms is also the founder of the L.A. Bluegrass Situation, a music festival that had it’s third annual event this past May.
While there are other bluegrass festivals in the L.A. area, you won’t find a more star-studded event than this. According to the fest’s website, “The past two years have featured amazing music and fun from the likes of Steve Martin, Andrew Bird, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, John C. Reilly, Tom Brosseau, Will Arnett, Paul Scheer, Vince Gill and many others.” That’s an impressive lineup of comic talent playing music.
This year’s event featured appearances by The Lonesome Trio, as well as Steve Martin’s Steep Canyon Rangers and John C. Reilly’s “American Song Cycle.” Sounds like a toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’, belly-laughin’ good time to me.
What a terrific interview. Tavis Smiley is the greatest interviewer — intelligent, insightful + gives his guest enough room to answer the question. Plus: he actually reads the books and knows his stuff.