October 12th, 2012, by

The guest highlights for August 2012 illustrated the different facets of one thing: humanity.

TV host Jeff Foxworthy and actress Melanie Lynskey show us that there are different ways to demonstrate faith–whether it’s faith in oneself or in a higher power.

War veteran Brian Castner shows that, even in a war zone, he can feel compassion for others.

Filmmaker Daniel Wolff and writer Ruben Martinez discuss resilience and hope.

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.

September 7th, 2012, by

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.

August 29th, 2012, by

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

Airdate | Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hometown | Washington, DC

Why You (Should) Know Him

  • “Bueller? Bueller?” (see video below)
  • 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.”
  • In 1976, Time magazine speculated that Stein could have been Deep Throat.
  • 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

Ben Stein Video Clips

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Clear Eyes Advertisement




August 21st, 2012, by

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   Youngblood
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
2005   Constantine
2006   The Lake House
2010   Henry’s Crime
2013   47 Ronin
2013   Man of Tai Chi

August 6th, 2012, by

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.

August 6th, 2012, by

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.

You can find these and other fun facts here.

August 1st, 2012, by

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.”

-Gore Vidal, November 2006



August 1st, 2012, by

The month of July showcased a cornucopia of emotions and experiences that sum up life as we know it. As usual, we were lucky to sit down with household names as well as some up-and-comers.

Talking about accomplishments and improvements were writer Joan Walsh and comedian-actor Cedric the Entertainer.

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.

Actress Niecy Nash talked about love, actor-comedian Jimmie Walker talked about fame and NCAA president Mark Emmert talked scandal.

Check out the gallery below to see notable quotes from some of July guests.

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

July 31st, 2012, by

Ed Helms and The Lonesome Trio

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.

July 30th, 2012, by

I’ve been a fan of Lucky Peach, the American magazine devoted to offbeat food culture (or something like that…let me know if you can think of a better way to describe it) ever since I saw their first issue. There’s a new Lucky Peach out, by the way, devoted to all things American.

Now it seems there’s a new high-concept food-zine in town, or across the pond anyhow, making waves over in the UK. Just in time for Olympic fever and all of its London-centric machinations, The Gourmand is now available in select bookshops and online. But what makes The Gourmand different from, say, Cook’s Illustrated or Bon Appetit? Could be their erotic photo essay on traditional Swedish cuisine (pickled shrimp, anyone?) or perhaps their story on British artist David Shrigley’s new food-themed opera. Or, really, any number of other things save the recipes.

The Gourmand is stepping into a very current and relatively new artistic space, one which Lucky Peach has been encroaching on for a couple of years already. With food becoming a serious cultural force in North America and England, places without deeply ingrained food cultures (at least on the scale of most other societies), it only follows that journals such as these should arise to document the phenomenon, blending cuisine with art, music, film and poetry.

Food culture in both the UK and the U.S. is blooming, turning countries formerly known for their mushy peas and hot dogs into world-leading culinary innovators. But why stop there? Obviously, you can do more with food than just eat it.

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