January 14th, 2013, by

Nearly 50 million Americans live in poverty, which means that more than 16% of our fellow citizens are struggling to survive. For children, that number is 20%–and, worst of all, for African Americans, the figure is nearly 26%. With all the talk of a slow recovery from the deepest recession since the U.S. depression, there doesn’t seem to be much good news for the country’s poor.

It’s against the stark backdrop of these numbers that we broadcast three nights of a special conversation on poverty. “Vision for a New America: A Future Without Poverty” examines one of the most important, but often-forgotten issues of our time. Panelists discussed proven solutions on how government officials can contain the wildfire of American poverty.

Guests included: Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and associate professor of Drexel University’s School of Public Health; Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United; Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH); Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House; John D. Graham, dean, Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs and author of America’s Poor and the Great Recession; Jonathan Kozol, author of Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America; Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; and Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary professor and author.

Watch our discussion on ways to aggressively address the economic crisis in the U.S. by refusing to abandon those Americans most in need—the perennially poor and the new poor—the country’s former middle class.

December 12th, 2012, by


This year, take on an oath and pledge. Annually, we all make resolutions usually related to our financial, spiritual, educational or physical health. I want you to think about your most important possession: your health. It’s the most important asset that you possess, and it trumps everything else in life. Healthy individuals make stronger communities. It’s just as simple as that.

Are you digging your grave with your fork?

Each of us can improve our lifestyle choices on a daily basis. How? By making conscious choices about what you select to put in your body. What’s in your refrigerator or handbag? Real food or junk food? Are you consuming too much alcohol? Each week, write down one new healthy resolution that you would like to accomplish. Sure it sounds like homework; but, putting your thoughts on paper and checking off your accomplishments are more often associated with success than just daydreaming about your goals.

Each of us can be the cure. You can cure or modify your risk for premature death and disability by: exercising, losing weight, controlling hypertension, stop smoking, wearing a seat belt and managing stress. It is as simple as that. Seventy percent of health care dollars are spent on diseases related to obesity, smoking and diabetes—almost all of which are controlled by individual choices.

When it comes to eating and losing weight, Michael Pollan sums it up best with seven simple and liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Since reading his best-selling book, In Defense of Food, I have changed my eating habits one meal at a time.

How does this doctor want you to become an empowered patient?

Eat home cooked food more often. Make enough so that you can have it for lunch. Not only will you save tons of money, but you will cook with less salt, fat and sugar than in a similar meal eaten at a fast food or chain restaurant.

Don’t eat standing up. Stop eating in your car; rather eat at a table and not in front of a TV. Chew your food more slowly. Why? When you are distracted, you eat 50% more than when you are aware of what you are eating.

Don’t drink your calories. Did you know that each twelve ounce can of Coca Cola has 10-12 teaspoons of sugar? Eating an orange rather than drinking orange juice is actually healthier for you. Because fruit has loads of fiber, less calories and great phytonutrients compared to juice. Fiber makes you fill fuller longer, decreases the hunger urge and will add fewer inches to your waistline.

Eat four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables daily. I mean fruit in its own skin. Fruit with curves. Apples, oranges, bananas, pineapples, berries or any fruit in season. If you can’t get fresh fruit, buy it frozen. Read the package label, and only purchase frozen fruits and vegetables without added sugar or salt. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the height of the season and have high vitamin content. During the winter months, I always keep a piece of fruit in my car. After a long day at work and long commute home, eating a pear or apple on the way home keeps me from feeling ravenous when I walk into my house.

Dig out of the grave, forkful by forkful. Make a conscious choice of what to put in your body. These choices embody the essence of taking care of self: self-care reform. Do for yourself what government, doctors, religious community or friends can not do for you. Make the extra effort to learn more ways to become healthy, including learning to cook. Self-care reform means you choose to make an old family recipe more nutritious by trying a new spice or condiment that enhances flavor, thereby using less oil and fat. My collard greens recipe will fool the oldest great-grandmother alive. It’s healthy and fat and meat free:

Dr. Bradley’s Mean, Lean, Collard Greens

¼ cup vegetable stock to sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic
2 large yellow onions coarsely chopped = about 3 cups
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 small package = 6 oz)
12 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobe (comes in a small can, just use one chipotle and 1 tsp of the sauce). Do not use the whole can of the fiery peppers. This is spicy. Save the rest for up to 2 months in a Ziploc bag and put in a freezer.
¼ cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons of smoked paprika, divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ cups vegetable stock (can use from a can); may need more to keep collard greens moist as they cook
4 tablespoons black strap molasses
5 pounds (about 4-5 bunches) collard greens, cleaned, off the stem and rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the vegetable stock on medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, sauté for about 6-7 minutes or until the onions are wilted. Then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the chipotle, 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika, vinegar, soy sauce, vegetable stock and molasses. Stir about 2-3 minutes.

Then stir in the greens, a third at a time, pressing the greens down as they start to wilt, and stir now and then. Cover them as they cook. Cook on medium heat. Add more vegetable stock to keep moist. Cook the greens, covered, for about 45 minutes. Add one tablespoon of smoked paprika, salt and pepper and cook another 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy—it’s even better the next day!

Self-care reform means that you choose what to put on your fork. Forkful by forkful you will see a difference in your health. Advocacy begins with you. Personally speak to the owners of your local grocer and request that more fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables be stocked in the produce aisle. Boycott stores that don’t listen to your requests.

Finally, self-care reform means that you will share your new wisdom with your friends and family. Self-care reform is transformative. Taste it…you’ll like it.

Dr. Linda Bradley Dr. Linda Bradley is a renowned surgeon who serves as the vice chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic. She is also the founder of a program aimed at women of color called “Celebrate Sisterhood.”

October 13th, 2012, by

We’re quickly approaching the 2012 presidential elections, and with that comes a lot of topics for debate. We were lucky enough to have political guests Ari Berman and Phyllis Bennis shed some insight on such issues as supposed voter fraud and foreign policy, respectively.

A majority of the population can agree that America can always work harder to be better–something economist Jeffrey Sachs can attest to. Guests T.I. and Sheila Bair also discuss persevering and bettering oneself.

We can only better ourselves with attaining more and more knowledge–we can take a page from NOVA scienceNow host David Pogue‘s book and branch out into something else completely different. (Speaking of doing something different, imagine Pretty in Pink actor Andrew McCarthy being a travel writer!) Or, we can take the knowledge we’ve learned from the ground up to create something of our own, in our own way, much like filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Or, on the other hand, we can take our knowledge and share it with the world through our passions, like pianist Lang Lang.

All in all, our goal as individuals, and in effect, a unified country, is to get better for a brighter future, as writer Joan Walsh suggests. That way, we can become more grateful for what we have…which is something actor Ethan Hawke can find in every facet of his job.

Check out the gallery featuring some of October 2012’s guests.

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

October 12th, 2012, by

Here’s a roundup of the guests that graced the couch on the Tavis Smiley set in September 2012.

Coming on the heels of the big presidential election, we had some political guests and some actors who commented on politics as well.

From actors, to TV hosts, musicians and actors-turned-teachers, we had them all. Check out the Seen & Heard gallery below, featuring guitarist Ry Cooder; singer-songwriters Dwight Yoakam and Wyclef Jean; journalist Hedrick Smith and Washington Post managing editor, Chris Cillizza; actors Jeremy Irons, Richard Gere, Jamie Lee Curtis, Penny Marshall and Elizabeth Banks; TV host Iyanla Vanzant; author Salman Rushdie; and actor-turned-teacher, Tony Danza.

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


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.

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