Press Play with Madeleine Brand-logo

Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.


Santa Monica, CA




Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.




Which new holiday films should you see or skip?

Critics review the latest film releases: “Godzilla Minus One,” “Eileen,” “Silent Night,” and “Candy Cane Lane.” Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger died on Wednesday at age 100. His carpet-bombing campaign in Cambodia helped give rise to a genocidal regime. In the Netherlands, a far-right political party dominated last week's parliamentary elections. KCRW looks at what’s behind the rise ofTrump-like politicians from Europe to South America. X CEO Linda Yaccarino was brought on board ostensibly to temper Elon Musk's antics and soothe advertiser fears. It hasn’t gone well.


Impress guests by making crêpes, it’s easier than you think

A crêpe is a thin pancake that’s pliable enough to fold or roll around a filling. Jacques Pépin’s method requires no blender and no putting the batter in the fridge to rest. The debate between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis is Thursday. DeSantis wants to breathe life into his flailing presidential campaign, and Newsom looks to position himself as the top Democrat in 2028. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s business partner and Berkshire Hathaway’s frugal guru, built an empire on buying “wonderful companies at fair prices.” He has died at age 99. A new book explains how the Rothschild family became the center of conspiracy theories, from who controls the world’s banks to COVID’s origins.


‘It’s easy to be mean’: Comedian Michelle Buteau on the importance of kindness

Michelle Buteau talks about fighting patriarchal standards of beauty, uplifting audiences at her comedy shows, and navigating others’ opinions around her surrogacy. Some actors, like Justine Bateman, are criticizing SAG-AFTRA’s contract with studios, particularly over its AI rules. Dec. 5 is the deadline to vote on the deal. Rap star Young Thug faces eight counts in a sweeping RICO indictment that paints him as the kingpin of a violent gang called Young Slime Life. Over the course of 48 hours, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern visited dozens of non-Tesla EV charging stations around LA County. A significant portion of them didn't work.


Pandemic closure of Beverly Soon Tofu leads to new cookbook

Monica Lee’s restaurant Beverly Soon Tofu is part of LA culinary history. Now she’s published a cookbook called “Sohn-mat: Recipes and Flavors of Korean Home Cooking.” The truce between Israel and Hamas is being extended for two more days, with the hope that Hamas will release more hostages and Gaza can get more aid. A New York doctor has sued NYU Langone Health over his firing as director of its cancer center. He was let go over his social media posts about the Israel-Hamas war. This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang: (36 Chambers).”


Holiday gifts guide: Where to shop, what to buy in LA

To find unique gifts for loved ones, browse Carla’s Fresh Market, Heath Ceramics, artisan pop-ups at Craft Contemporary and Green and Bisque Clay House, and more. Donald Trump's presidential campaign speeches have become more vengeful and autocratic. Now experts are warning about a rise in fascism ahead of next year’s election. Holidays bring joy, yet family tensions loom with uncomfortable questions about marriage and politics. A licensed therapist offers tips on surviving the holidays. Critics review the latest film releases: “Napoleon,” “Wish,” “Maestro,” “American Symphony,” and “Good Burger 2.”


Will boarding flights be faster with United’s new WILMA method?

United Airlines has implemented a new boarding process they’re calling “WILMA” (window, middle, aisle). The company says it’ll reduce bottlenecks. Sixty years ago, President Kennedy met with Latino activists in Houston the night before his assassination. Historians believe it was the first time a sitting president acknowledged the importance of the Latino vote. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is one of the biggest landlords on Skid Row. A report from the LA Times has revealed squalid and dangerous living conditions. The explosive final season of Netflix’s “The Crown” spotlights Princess Diana's tragic death. It faces scrutiny for fictionalizing history.


LA Opera conductor on holding onto her Colombian roots

Lina González-Granados is conducting LA Opera’s “El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego.” She reflects on the show’s themes of love and forgiveness, plus her journey to U.S. orchestras. OpenAI, the company that created Chat GPT, unexpectedly ousted its chief executive Sam Altman on Friday. By Monday, Microsoft had hired him to run a new research unit. “A federal appeals court heard oral arguments today over whether a lower court’s gag order violates former President Trump’s free speech rights. KCRW hears how the film, TV, and theater business is going for Bill Veloric, a talent agent with Innovative Artists, and Carmen Cubah, an Emmy Award-winning casting director.


Thanksgiving: Try these Roman, Mexican, Filipino dishes

Consider a Thanksgiving menu of beans and sauerkraut, gnocchi, carne asada, and adobo chocolate chip cookies. Critics review the latest film releases: “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” “Next Goal Wins,” “Fallen Leaves,” “May December,” and “Saltburn.” Both Israel and the U.S. say Hamas has been using Gaza’s main hospital complex as a control center and weapons storehouse. Hamas denies this. From Hollywood to Washington D.C., protesters are calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Most U.S. lawmakers and the G7 have so far rejected using the word “ceasefire.”


How long will Tustin military hangar fire burn, what will clean-up require?

Tustin officials are letting the U.S. Navy hangar fire die out on its own and telling residents to stay inside, as crews with hazmat gear clean up public areas. Makeshift businesses — like in mechanical engineering and textile industries — existed under the section of the 10 freeway that recently burned. Those workers lost everything. The 366-foot-tall Vegas entertainment orb known as Sphere is drawing crowds for its U2 residency. West Hollywood and Santa Monica are exploring building similar structures. Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, anti-abortion measures have lost in every state where they’ve been on the ballot. Funghi trifolati, an Italian antipasti dish, features mushrooms sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley. Mushrooms can also be stuffed, and they go well in barley soup.


Comedian Aparna Nancherla tackles anxiety on stage and in real life

Comedian Aparna Nancherla, who’s been a staff writer on “Late Night,” talks about her new memoir called “Unreliable Narrator: Me, Myself and Impostor Syndrome.” Biden is facing calls from inside the government to end the violence in Gaza, but it’s unclear whether the US has the power to stop the bloodshed. What will come out of Wednesday’s meeting between President Biden and China’s Xi Jingping? The two leaders will likely discuss fentanyl, Taiwan, and global conflicts. “A Murder at the End of the World” follows a mystery at a tech billionaire’s Icelandic retreat and reflects the anxieties of our time.


With 10 freeway shut down in DTLA, ‘Angelenos should prepare for the worst’

The 10 freeway is closed through Downtown LA — after a fire damaged an overpass. A state of emergency is in place, and as of noon Monday, cleanup of the hazardous site is complete. The Supreme Court adopted its first-ever code of ethics on Monday. For months, the justices have faced criticism over conflicts of interest and a cratering of public trust. SAG-AFTRA actors didn’t want AI using their likeness without permission or payment. The new deal, on which they’ll start voting Tuesday, covers those concerns. California’s redwoods are some of the oldest and largest trees in the world. Some activists and scientists are hoping to save them by planting new redwoods in other places. On his new album “9,” BLKBOK merges classical and hip-hop music. The record is named after the Little Rock Nine, who desegregated their white school in 1957.


SAG strike ends. Productions to restart soon — with a ‘logistical nightmare’

After 118 days, SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative deal with Hollywood studios. Guild leaders say the agreement is valued at more than $1 billion. Newly unsealed documents show Meta’s top brass repeatedly warned CEO Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook and Instagram needed more safety measures to protect the well-being of young users. He allegedly ignored them — repeatedly. Critics review the latest film releases: “The Marvels,” “Dream Scenario,” “It’s a Wonderful Knife,” “A Still Small Voice.” What kind of local food do you miss when traveling? For Evan Kleiman, she craves burritos, Mexican-style eggs, sushi, salad, and market-fresh produce.


5 years after Camp Fire, Paradise rebuilds with tougher standards

Five years after the Camp Fire destroyed Paradise, CA, about a third of the town has been repopulated, consisting of fire survivors and new residents. The documentary “Beyond Utopia” shows gripping details of some of the last-known attempts at defection from North Korea before the pandemic. It almost didn’t get made. As the Smithsonian National Zoo’s three panda ambassadors return to China, what does this spell for U.S.-China relations?


'Nyad’: Swimmer defies what people expect from a woman in her 60s

Diana Nyad’s dream was to swim from Cuba to Florida. She failed when she was 28, then retired, and at age 60, decided to try again. A new Netflix film tells her story. As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, a Thousand Oaks Jewish man died on Monday after sustaining injuries during a protest, and college campuses have erupted in sometimes violent demonstrations. Critics say Sam Bankman-Fried’s guilty verdict reveals the whole crypto charade, but evangelists see this as just another growing pain on the road to market maturation. Coworking and real estate company WeWork filed for bankruptcy on Monday. What does its demise say about the future of where and how people work post-pandemic?


Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on ‘freedom music’ and magic of silence

Composer and jazz musician Miguel Atwood-Ferguson embodies a global influence in his debut album, Les Jardins Mystiques Vol. 1. As the death toll rises, Israel lacks clear plans for Gaza beyond crushing Hamas. What will become of the embattled territory and the occupied West Bank? Joe Biden is trailing Donald Trump in five of six key swing states that are likely to determine the 2024 presidential election, a recent New York Times poll shows. A federal law bars people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. Does it violate the Second Amendment? The Supreme Court will consider this question on Tuesday. The justices also recently agreed to hear a challenge to a Trump-era ban on bump stocks.


PCH in Malibu: Father demands safety changes after losing his daughter

Since Michel Shane’s 13-year-old daughter died on PCH in 2010, he’s been trying to make the road safer. He’s produced a documentary called 21 Miles in Malibu. The autoworkers’ strike is almost over. UAW President Shawn Fain employed aggressive tactics and unapologetic rhetoric to secure big gains for the union and the labor movement at large. Ady Barkan, 39, died this week after battling ALS. KCRW replays an interview with him about the documentary Not Going Quietly, which tracks his fight against cuts to Medicare. Critics review the latest film releases: Priscilla, The Killer, What Happens Later, and Rustin.


How to make egg-based pasta from scratch

Evan Kleiman explains how to make pasta using flour and eggs, called “la sfoglia.” It’s kneaded, rolled out, and can be turned into stuffed treats or long, flat noodles. The Rafah border has opened for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began, allowing foreign nationals and severely injured Palestinians to enter Egypt. In Let Us Descend, author Jesmyn Ward follows a young enslaved woman’s journey from the Carolinas to Louisiana in the pre-Civil War South.


After prestige and peak TV, what’s next for viewers?

Prestige TV brought ambitious shows like “Mad Men.” Peak TV meant an abundance of niche and weird programming like “Fleabag.” Now is post-TV here? Peter Beinart offers a view from the Jewish left on the war between Israel and Hamas, and why the ground offensive could make things worse for Israel. Civil rights attorney and former ADL leader David Lehrer passed away last week. He will be remembered for his unwavering optimism amid extreme darkness. The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema From Fodder To Oscar is a book that traces 50 years of Black characters and culture in scary movies.


‘The music is opening up your body’: Check out new jazz tracks

KCRW DJ LeRoy Downs recommends new jazz tracks by A.K. Toney, Steve Lehman, Linda May Han Oh, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and Samora Pinderhughes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the total destruction of Hamas. Even with a bloody ground war, some experts say that may not be possible. The 14th Amendment bans insurrectionists from holding political office. A Colorado trial will determine if that applies to former President Donald Trump. Journalist and author Nat Segaloff’s new book, “The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear,” is a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic horror film and its standing power.


Chuck D on drawing ‘naphic grovels,’ embracing mistakes in art

Chuck D explores life post-COVID through illustrations in his graphic novel “Summer of Hamn.” With the war in Israel, foreign policy is at the center of the California Senate race. KCRW looks at where the leading democratic candidates stand. Major record companies claim Anthropic’s chatbot spits out the same lyrics as their copyrighted songs. Legal experts say they have a good lawsuit. Critics review the latest films: Five Nights at Freddy's, Pain Hustlers, The Holdovers, and Fingernails.