EP 289: James Clapper on Trump, Russia, and a Life in Intelligence

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recalls how tinkering with a TV set as a boy led to a career in signals intelligence, his frustration when working as an intelligence briefer to General William Westmoreland during the Vietnam War, and what it was like to be in the room when President Obama ordered the raid on Osama Bin Laden. He discusses Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the now infamous intelligence meeting with President-elect Trump at Trump Tower, and why he believes that Russia’s efforts successfully tipped the election for Donald Trump. Plus he weighs in on the North Korean Summit, his war or words with President Trump, and much more. Order James Clappe

EP 288: Dave Itzkoff on Robin Williams' Comedy and Tragedy

New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff talks about the surprisingly patrician upbringing of Robin Williams, his time studying to be a serious actor at Julliard, and Robin's early influences as a comedian. Dave reveals how Star Wars helped Williams land the role of Mork the Ork, and why his shenangigans on Mork and Mindy might have landed him in hot water in the age of #MeToo. He discusses Robin’s gradual evolution as a movie star, and why Hollywood didn’t really know what to do with him at first. Dave shares how John Belushi’s overdose scared Robin Williams straight, what eventually caused him to fall back into addiction some 20 years later, and how a rare disease led to his tragic

EP 287: Eugene Jarecki Goes Road Tripping with Elvis

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki drove across the U.S. in Elvis Presley's 1963 Rolls Royce to talk to people about Elvis as a metaphor for the American dream in his new documentary The King. He traces Elvis’s journey from his birth in a Mississippi town that's barely kept alive by Elvis tourism to the musical melting pot of Memphis, and ultimately to Las Vegas and the "sweaty sequined jumpsuit Elvis" who became more of a corporate brand than a man. He reveals how he acuired Elvis’s Rolls Royce, and how it became a beacon for people on both sides of the political divide to have a conversation about the promise of America, the sins of the past, and where our country is

EP 286: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia

Ambassador Michael McFaul helped President Obama craft the US-Russia “reset," and he later had a front-row seat for the end of the reset with the return of the hostile, paranoid Russian President Vladimir Putin. He recalls witnessing history unfold during the attempted Russian military coup in 1989 and early encounter with a young unimpressive Vladimir Putin in the 90s. He gives an insiders account of being with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she presented the infamous "reset" button, the first meeting between Putin and the newly elected President Obama, and his own thoughts on what motivates the Russian President. He talks about arriving to protestors in Moscow on his first day

EP 285: Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Duplass on Indie Film, Amazon's Goliath, and TV's Renais

Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Duplass talk about Season 2 of Amazon's most binged show Goliath. Billy reveals why he’s so attracted to outsider roles, what he found particularly appealing about playing an attorney, and how the show’s creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro (both former attorneys) helped him prepare for the courtroom. He talks about some of his own favorite movie lawyers, the death of independent film, and how television has come a long way since his early days on the 90’s sitcom Evening Shade. Mark Duplass talks about his excitement to play a bad guy on Goliath, what it's like to be one half of the acclaimed filmmaking duo The Duplass Brothers, why it took a while for

Bonus Episode: Akimbo

I love sharing new podcasts, and in this special bonus episode, I want to introduce you to my friend Seth Godin and a great new podcast called Akimbo. The first episode is about the hype around grand openings, whether it’s a summer blockbuster or a new startup, and in the second episode of Akimbo, Seth Godin delves into status roles in society, how we measure up alongside others, and what we’re willing to do to achieve a higher status role. Subscribe to Akimbo in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, or go to www.akimbo.me. You can also follow Seth Godin on twitter at @ThisIsSethsBlog or at www.sethgodin.com.

EP 284: Bob Balaban Puts the "Character" in Character Actor

Bob Balaban has been a delightful part of many of the best movies and TV shows of the past 50 years including Moonrise Kingdom, A Mighty Wind, Gosford Park, Capote, and Seinfeld. This Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor, director, and producer shares how a character actor can have a much longer career than a movie star, why he sometimes enjoys auditioning for a role more than actually getting it, and why he likes to study the famous directors with whom he works from Stephen Spielberg to Wes Anderson. He recalls his family’s early roots in the golden age of Hollywood, his first break playing Linus in the original production of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and how he ended up playing Francois

EP 283: Todd Purdum on Rodgers & Hammerstein's Musical Magic

Todd Purdum, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico, discusses his own life-long love of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and why their Broadway shows like South Pacific are so timeless. He reveals how Oklahoma! revolutionized the Broadway musical and how their shows perfectly tapped into the mood of post-war America. He talks about how Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein bravely addressed social injustices in their work, and how Hammerstein's politics landed him in hot water at the height of McCarthyism. He discusses their troubled relationship with Hollywood and why the film version of The Sound of Music has been something of a mixed blessing for the

EP 282: Max Brooks on Star Wars, Real Wars and Ewok Insurgency

Author Max Brooks is well known for his bestselling zombie books like World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, and he applies the same creative thinking to military strategy as a fellow at the Modern War Institute and The Art of Future Warfare Project. He reveals how he gets military leaders to think outside the box about complex problems, some of the threats for which he fears the US is least prepared, and why American ingenuity and self-reliance will be crucial to surviving modern disasters like an attack on the power grid. He discusses how his mother the late Anne Bancroft helped him cope with dyslexia, how Alan Alda taught him to write, and why his dad Mel Brooks is still a bundle of

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