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 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
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.
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.
I’m not a follower of sports in general, and the Olympics are no exception, for the most part. I can, however, get excited about certain things related to the events, like U.S. gold medalist Ryan Lochte’s grill, for one.
Lochte won gold in the men’s 400m swimming event, beating Michael Phelps and creating one of the 2012 London games’ first celebrities. While Lochte’s athleticism and good looks certainly help (details about how many pizzas he eats in a day soon to follow), it was the addition of custom dental work and flashy sneakers that pushed him into the world spotlight.
Check out Lochte’s swag here, as he sports his diamond-encrusted, stars-and-stripes-emblazoned grills while posing with his gold. While he tried to wear the patriotic teeth covers on the Olympic podium, officials forbade it, threatening to withhold his medal. According to a recent profile in The New York Times, Lochte has over 100 pairs of shoes, idolized Lil’ Wayne and aspires to become a fashion designer. Judging by the star-spangled winged Adidas he wore to his event, he’s more of the Kanye West school of fashion than the Ralph Lauren side of things.
As someone who has devoted her life to education, this is a problem we are not addressing head on…But, the worst is that in many Black homes promoting athletics and or entertainment as a means for “success” is reinforced more than education. There is some degree of selffulling prophacy.