May 12th, 2012, by

The last two weeks’ conversations highlighted themes of education, life experiences and love.

Bill Bennett, former education secretary, radio show host and author opened up the floor for the conversation on the impact of education in our country. Microsoft’s vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education, Anthony Salcito, shared how technology affected his education and how he plans to pay it forward to today’s youth. Sheryl WuDunn, one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World, also touched upon how the need for education is a global issue. And actor Ed Helms of The Office fame joked about some news outlets that educate our TV-watching youth.

To hear columnist-author Anna Quindlen speak on life experiences and learning is no surprise, since her memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, celebrates life and aging gracefully. Television network heavyweight Warren Littlefield also paid a visit and reflected on what he’s learned from his experience in the entertainment business. It’s true what they say: hindsight is 20/20.

Of course, the show wouldn’t be the same without a little humor. In this case, actor Damian Lewis pokes fun at President Obama.

And finally, shedding a little light on love was singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. Love Story star Ryan O’Neal closed out the week and sat down with us to detail his memoir about his relationship with his soul mate, the late actress Farrah Fawcett.

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

May 10th, 2012, by

You asked for it, and it’s finally here. Robert Blake’s autobiographical text, Tales of a Rascal, is now published and available on Amazon.

Our exclusive two-part December 2011 conversation with Robert Blake revealed much about the actor’s life and times since his famed murder trial. At the time he sat down with us, the Baretta star was still working to market the book, but gave us a sneak peek on the details of his life, since he maintained a low profile.

“But you could ask me that about anything in my life, because that biography is really a biography about God, because I ain’t smart and I ain’t tough, and I’m not a lot of things, but God has always had some kind of plan for me.” -Robert Blake, December 2011

Here’s a clip from the December 2011 conversation:


May 7th, 2012, by

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

Airdate | Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why You (Should) Know Her:

  • She’s the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize.
  • WuDunn was included in Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World.
  • She is currently Mid-Market Securities’ senior managing director, where she raises capital for clients.

Why She’s Buzzing | Coming in hot with momentum from the “Made Visible” panel discussion and the best-selling success of her latest text, Half the Sky, WuDunn is an advocate for women’s rights, making a name for herself in the global war against the oppression of women. The Half the Sky Movement will also include a four-part series featured on PBS.

Sheryl WuDunn Trivia

  • A Cornell University graduate, she’s also a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and Board’s Finance Committee. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and her MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
  • WuDunn is also a recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury College.
  • In fall 2011, she was a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
  • In 1988, WuDunn married reporter Nicholas D. Kristof. They became the first married couple to receive a Pulitzer Prize for journalism when they reported from Beijing on the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
  • The couple received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Her first best-selling book, China Wakes, was a result of her experiences in China from 1988-1993. WuDunn had to travel as a tourist through China when her press credentials were revoked by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
  • WuDunn was the first Asian American reporter hired at The New York Times.
  • She worked as an executive and journalist at The New York Times, covering international markets, energy, global technology and industry. She was anchor of The New York Times Page One, which was a nightly program that featured the next day’s Times stories and was one of the few Times employees who juggled the news and business sides of the publication.


  • Pulitzer Prize (for reporting in China)
  • George Polk Award (for reporting in China)
  • Overseas Press Club (for reporting in China)

Bibliography (co-written with her husband)
1994   China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power
2000   Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
2009 Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

WuDunn with her husband, Nicholas Kristof, and their son Gregory in Tiananmen Square in 1993. (from

May 6th, 2012, by

To mourn the very sad and untimely passing of Adam Yauch, better known as MCA, here are three pieces from the archives commemorating the golden years of his group, The Beastie Boys. Whether you’re a fan of the three rapping Jews from New York or not (or even a fan of early hip-hop in general), the cultural impact of Yauch and his bandmates, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, cannot be denied. The fact that the group was still touring and selling out arenas within the last few years speaks volumes to not only their beloved place in pop culture, but their musical chops as well.

First, here’s their classic video for “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”


Second, here’s a touching compilation of remembrances compiled by NPR’s Nina Gregory.

And third, here’s an awesome early profile of Yauch’s group from a 1987 issue of the legendary Creem magazine by Chuck Eddy.

It begins, “At 32 minutes past two the morning of 16 January 1987, two Beastie Boys broke into my West Hollywood hotel room and dumped a wastebasket of extremely wet water on my head, my bed, the carpeting and my Converse All-Stars. (I’d stupidly left the chain-lock unsecured, and I suppose they bribed the night clerk into giving them a key.) Earlier that evening, after Pee-Wee Herman had visited their dressing room and before they appeared on Joan Rivers’ show, the Beasties were tossing parsley at me, dropping ice cubes in my hair, and “dissin’” (graffiti-artist lingo for “saying bad things about”) my brown socks and flannel shirt. I interpreted all of this to mean that they did not like me.”

While Eddy’s profile reveals Yauch and his bandmates to be nothing short of out-of-control hooligans in their early days, they mellowed with age, becoming outspoken activists for human rights, particularly Tibetan freedom.


May 6th, 2012, by

In this series of posts, I will be highlighting some of the best and most innovative podcasts on the web, as well as a few that I just think are plain cool.

My introduction to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim came first through B’Owl, a mock-infomercial for a children’s toy that is part bat and part owl. It’s taken from Heidecker and Wareheim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and is a very strange video, satirizing TV-borne consumerism with a level of absurdity not seen since Monty Python’s heyday. At the time it was like nothing I’d seen before, and, for a while, I was convinced it was the funniest thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Then I discovered their series of vodka commercials for Absolut, co-starring Zach Galifianakis, and I became convinced that they were the funniest things I’d ever laid eyes on. I subsequently became a huge Tim and Eric fan.

If you enjoyed either of those phenomena as much as I did, you’ll also enjoy Heidecker’s satirical podcast series, On Cinema. If you were staring at your screen in puzzlement, wondering why those grown men are wearing beehive wigs and sitting in too-small furniture, well…you should probably just move on to the next post. While some have attempted to explain their humor, it’s something, much like cilantro or Kevin Smith movies, that you either like or you don’t–explanation rarely makes a difference.

Heidecker’s deliberately DIY-sounding On Cinema features him playing himself (or a version thereof) across from his friend and fellow comedian Gregg Turkington, a self-proclaimed “film expert.” Together, the two of them set out to discuss a new favorite film in each week’s podcast, from 12 Angry Men to the recent remake of The Three Stooges, and usually don’t get very far. What happens, instead, is the two of them end up passive-aggressively bickering about minutiae for a few minutes, while trying to remember if the film in question won any Oscars or is available on DVD.

Beyond that, it’s a bit hard to explain why On Cinema is so funny, but it’s clearly a send-up of the podcast medium, and those who take to it without really having anything to say. At an average of about three minutes per episode, they exemplify Heidecker’s unique sense of humor, while not overstaying their welcome. If you enjoy it, this could open the to door to the rest of Tim and Eric’s oevre. If you find it too weird, you’re certainly not alone.


May 1st, 2012, by

Screenshot from satellite interview


Airdate | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hometown | Pass Christian, MS

Parents | Lawrence E. Roberts and Lucimarian Roberts

Why You (Should) Know Her:

  • She’s the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America.
  • When she joined ESPN as a sportscaster in 1990, she made a name for herself with her catchphrase “Go on with your bad self!”
  • She was the first journalist to interview President Obama after his inauguration.

Why She’s Buzzing | Just in time for Mother’s Day, her new text, My Story, My Song, which was written with her mother, shares stories of their lives and what they learned from each other through their collaboration.

Robin Roberts Trivia

  • During the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, Roberts’ broadcasting work was honored for its impact on women’s basketball.
  • Roberts was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Her father, Lawrence, was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Roberts graduated cum laude from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in communication.
  • A skilled basketball player, she turned down an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University after visiting the campus. She still played for the Southeastern Louisiana University team, becoming one of only three Lady Lions to score 1,000 career points and claim 1,000 career rebounds. Her #21 jersey was retired during a ceremony held in February 2011.
  • She earned three Emmy Awards for her work with ESPN.
  • She was also given the WBCA’s Mel Greenberg Media Award in 2001.
  • Roberts drove the Pace Car for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 in May 2010.
  • On July 31, 2007, during a live broadcast, Roberts announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Ironically, it was after she had worked on a special covering Joel Siegel’s farewell on GMA. Siegel died from colon cancer. By March 2008, she had completed her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. (see video here)


2007   From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By
2012   My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith

April 30th, 2012, by

There are plenty of places to download music online–some legal, some otherwise. Somewhere in the middle are a network of blogs dedicated to preserving and sharing obscure and out-of-print music, not for profit, but simply for enjoyment. Electric Jive is my latest discovery in this realm and has led to a recent accumulation of a mountain of amazing African tunes from decades past.

In the documentary on the making of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Under African Skies, Simon remarks on how he became obsessed with a mixtape of South African accordion jive, and it was that collection which inspired him to record there. A search of the kind of music that Simon would have heard on that tape turned up Electric Jive, a lovingly-curated archive of African sounds, from traditional to jazz to the very same kind of accordion, sax and guitar tunes that got Simon so excited.

Electric Jive is more than just a depository of music, however. It also compiles everything from original cover art, to scans of records, to all kinds of biographical and cultural information, as well as copious photos and anecdotes about the artists it presents. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in world music to check out the collection on Electric Jive, starting with this dance-happy collection of accordion hits. Your money back guaranteed if it doesn’t get you moving.

April 30th, 2012, by

It was all laughs in DC this past weekend. The 98th annual White House Correspondents Dinner was held Saturday. The annual event allows a brief reprieve for the president and journalists to let their hair down, so to speak, and take in a night of celebration, achievement, – and camaraderie for the field of journalism.

Guests for the event included a number of journalists, politicians and celebrities. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosted the event. The president took to the podium later and pulled no punches. Jokes ranged from Hilary Clinton’s night out on the town, Rick Santorum’s “snobbish” remarks,- to the Secret Service.

Even with a night of fun and laughs, there’s always work to done in DC. Between all of the schmoozing, handshakes,- and hugs, someone’s bound to make a deal. Ted Johnson’s article in Variety magazine goes in depth to show just how valuable a weekend in DC can be during the Correspondents Dinner. All in all, it’s a great night and a lot of fun.

Check out the clip below to get a glimpse of the president’s turn at the podium during the evenings festivities.


April 30th, 2012, by

Knowing the details of financial aid can save you thousands in college costs.

To many students across the country, nothing is more exciting than an acceptance letter to the school of their choice. Thoughts of tailgate parties, lifelong friends and late nights in the library begin to fill the minds of these soon-to-be high school graduates.

But, enthusiasm alone won’t protect them from the skyrocketing costs of college. TIME magazine’s Kayla Webley has a must-read for anyone preparing to attend college. As a freshman in college years ago, I can tell you I wish I had something like this to keep me informed.

Students today must be made well aware of the costs, both in time and career earnings, of their student debt. As with any agreement, it’s always best to look at the fine print, and TIME‘s article definitely lays it all out for everyone to see.

Webley’s article points out the need-to-know basics of financial aid, as well as some of the little-known facts. For example, many colleges frontload in their financial aid packages for students. The term refers to colleges and universities giving students a higher amount of grants and scholarships early on in their academic career, which dwindle away as students continue their academics. This can make a college or university appear to be more generous for a student evaluating different financial aid packages.

Many students have worked diligently to prepare themselves for college by studying late hours, remaining academically competitive, networking and showing themselves to be well-rounded candidates to universities. With talks of job uncertainty, student debt and the unemployment numbers taking center stage in the national dialogue, Webley’s article is much needed, as millions of high school graduates take to the stage to receive their diplomas. Knowledge in any situation is half the battle to achieving one’s personal goals; so, take some time to get informed today. Not knowing can cost you seriously down the road.

April 29th, 2012, by

While it sounds like an opening scene in a new George Lucas film, the fantasy is no longer science fiction — its finally here. Terrafugia, a Massachusetts-based automotive group, appears to have made a tremendous jump in the much-awaited creation of the flying car.

For years, many researchers and scientists have been returning to the drawing board to bring the elusive construct into reality. Despite many efforts however, engineers and researchers still could not figure out how to create a flying car. In fact, it wasn’t until researchers changed their thinking that they had an “aha moment” — and began working on a street-legal plane. And so, the company with an eye for the future began working on new designs.

Terraguia’s Transition, the company’s  light sport aircraft, will be available for purchase later in 2012. After its appearance at the New York Auto Show, people have already started placing orders for the new vehicle/aircraft. While it will take some time before this modern day phenomenon becomes more commonplace, the mere idea of it as an option is phenomenal. But, before you run out to buy one for yourself, be sure to bring your wallet. Terrafugia’s new street legal plane will set you back $279,000. Consider it an astonishing price for the future. Take a look at the mock-up version of the Transition from Terrafugia below.

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