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Press Play with Madeleine Brand


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

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.




B.D. Wong on playing Awkwafina’s dad and teaching audiences about anti-Asian racism

Comedy Central’s hit show “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens,” now in season two, is loosely based on the life of actress/musician Awkwafina. Her father, Wally, is played by B.D. Wong (“Law and Order: SVU,” “Jurassic Park”). He talks to Press Play about how this role is a refreshing departure from all his past ones, and how directing an episode is his chance to remind audiences of the impact of anti-Asian sentiment. Critics also review the latest films, including “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and...


Hello vax mandate for LA bars, goodbye ‘girlboss’

LA County will soon require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test at bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs, and lounges. LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the official order will go into effect in early October. So far, about two-thirds of LA County residents have at least one shot. Some prominent conservative media figures have been touting ivermectin — medicine primarily used to treat parasites, especially in livestock — as a treatment for COVID-19....


Election 2022 begins for Newsom, ethnic studies could become a graduation requirement

In the California recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom crushed the opposition 64 to 36, though votes are still being counted as of noon on Wednesday. Exit polls showed that voters stuck to Newsom because of coronavirus fears and how Republican governors in Florida and Texas have handled the pandemic. “Election 2022 begins today, really. Newsom delivered the blue wave of the size of which California has never seen,” says Politico reporter Carla Marinucci. Also, more than 2,500 LAPD employees...


US struggles to send COVID vaccines abroad, CA bill aims to bring truth to recycling

President Biden announced in May that the United States would ship 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to dozens of countries. But due to major delays, communication lapses, and international red tape, only about 14 million vaccine doses had been donated abroad by the end of June. Also, new California legislation would restrict what kinds of plastics can have the famous “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on them. State Senator Ben Allen wrote the bill and says, “A lot of these items are...


Some Republicans claim the recall election is rigged as Newsom pulls ahead in the polls

September 14 is the last day for Californians to vote in the gubernatorial recall election, and the latest polls show Governor Gavin Newsom is likely to keep his job. Meanwhile, high-profile Republicans, including candidate Larry Elder and former President Donald Trump, argue that the election is rigged. Also, Press Play looks at whether President Joe Biden’s new workplace vaccine mandate is constitutional. Finally, a new documentary dives into the tumultuous life of the musician Rick James.


How one family processed the pain of losing their son on 9/11

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history. For the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, those scars never healed, or they evolved alongside our country becoming more divided and consumed by conspiracy theories. Press Play speaks to Jennifer Senior about her moving story that profiles family members of Bobby McIlvaine, who was 26 years old when he died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. We also get reviews of the latest films, including “The Card...


Difficulty of closing Gitmo, quiet tragedy of police suicides

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Guantánamo Bay detention center is still open, and 39 detainees are still in custody, down from a high of nearly 800. What exactly happened at Guantánamo Bay, and what does the future there hold? Press Play also looks at the rise of police suicides, how some TikTok users are trying to make it in Hollywood, and how fake Keanu Reeves social media accounts are scamming women.


Cash incentives to fight drug abuse, decriminalized abortion in Mexico, Britney Spears’ possible freedom

California lawmakers are pushing to pay addicts not to use illegal drugs. State Senator Scott Weiner says the strategies would be spearheaded by community organizations and health care clinics that work with meth users. These programs would run for three to four months and cost $300 to $400. Also, President Biden wants to get nearly half of the U.S.’ electricity from solar power by 2050. Mexico’s Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to decriminalize abortion, whereas Texas is criminalizing...


COVID booster confusion, Texas’ controversial abortion law, long hours on Hollywood sets

U.S. federal regulators said late last week that they may only be able to recommend a third coronavirus vaccine dose for some Pfizer recipients by September 30. The U.S. Department of Justice announced it will protect Texans’ right to abortion after the state passed a law that bans the health procedure after six weeks. Members of the Hollywood production union IATSE are sharing stories of long shifts with no breaks and little time off, which have prompted negotiations for a new collective...


‘Let’s Talk to Lucy’: New podcast unearths personal side of TV icon Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball made her name on TV, but she also had a radio show called “Let’s Talk to Lucy.” A trove of old reel-to-reel tapes has been pulled from her archives. They include interviews with the biggest stars of the day, plus her close friends and co-stars. Most of these conversations haven’t been heard since they originally aired in the mid-1960s. Now hundreds of them are airing on SiriusXM and will eventually be available wherever you get your podcasts. Ball used many of those interviews...


Can US invest in better infrastructure to protect against fires and floods?

The Caldor Fire has burned more than 200,00 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and 53,000 residents of South Lake Tahoe have evacuated. Hurricane Ida in Louisiana is leaving residents without electricity for weeks. “What we're realizing with every passing day is how expensive it is to not act on the climate crisis,” says Leah Stokes, energy policy researcher at UC Santa Barbara. “Look at what's happening with entire towns burning down across the West Coast. Look what's happening with...


Evacuating Kabul for LA, plus whether Latinos can help keep Newsom in office

Some 100,000 refugees are resettling in America so far after the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, and some are settling in Los Angeles. Plus, as the California gubernatorial recall election heats up, Democrats are hoping for support from a key demographic: Latinos. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is gearing up for a pricey separation, prompted by Malibu’s claims that its students aren’t getting an equal education. Finally, many of Al Capone’s belongings will soon be...


Preventing wildfires, predicting war, and treating COVID

As the Caldor Fire threatens thousands of homes and businesses in South Lake Tahoe, the new documentary called “Bring Your Own Brigade” looks at the Woolsey Fire in Malibu and Camp Fire in Paradise — and how to prevent similar ones. Now that the U.S. has withdrawn from Afghanistan after two decades of war there, what will U.S. combat look like going forward? When it comes to COVID, a drug meant for OCD looks promising in treating coronavirus, and we look at how long-haul patients are faring...


If a Republican wins CA recall race, will mask and vaccine mandates end?

If Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled, whoever replaces him will face a series of mounting crises: wildfires, coronavirus pandemic, homelessness. What could a possible new Republican governor accomplish? A federal judge says California's recall is election is constitutional, while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a Texas law that would ban abortions as early as six weeks. Jury selection starts on Tuesday in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes. The disgraced founder of Theranos is facing...


How’s in-person school so far? Third grade teacher, social worker, and football coach weigh in

LAUSD’s fall semester began two weeks ago with mandatory, weekly COVID testing for around half a million teachers, staff and students. So far, around 6500 students have either tested positive or are in quarantine because of possible exposure. Press Play looks at how the school year is going so far with a third grade teacher, a high school social worker, and a high school football coach. We also have our weekly review of new films: “Candyman,” “Vacation Friends,” “No Man of God,” and “He’s...


ISIS-K springs up amid Kabul airport evacuations. What do we know about this terrorist group?

Today explosions erupted outside the Kabul airport, leaving dozens of people dead or injured, including 12 U.S. service members. The Taliban condemned the attack. It’s too soon to say who’s responsible. But on Thursday night, U.S. officials warned of a specific and credible threat targeting the airport — by the terrorist group called the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K).


‘Tough to keep people calm’: Caldor Fire could threaten Lake Tahoe community

The Caldor Fire in El Dorado County has already burned more than 125,000 acres. CAL FIRE is calling it the “number one priority in the nation” for firefighters. “We've had the worst air quality in the nation when generally we have the most pure mountain air here,” says Mike Peron, who’s been overseeing Caldor Fire coverage for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Sierra Sun. “And it is putting a lot of people in panic, even though we get these messages from CAL FIRE, from Eldorado County...


How will Paralympians compete without their caregivers?

More than 4000 athletes are competing in this year’s Paralympics, which kicks off today in Tokyo. Their families aren’t allowed to travel with them because of COVID restrictions, but some rely on their parents as caregivers. “For Paralympians … it’s not just about having support from your family. It's about having literal tools that you need to succeed in competition. And they argue that it's an accessibility accommodation that they require to compete,” says Amanda Morris, a disability...


Pfizer’s full FDA approval may not be enough to win over vaccine skeptics

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine earned full approval from the FDA. However, Felipe Osorno from Keck Medicine of USC says misinformation is still out there. He recalls a recent town hall meeting in Boyle Heights: “Folks were still wondering whether the vaccine would change their DNA, or whether they were going to get a chip inserted through it. I do hope that the full FDA approval will convince more folks and get us closer to more and more Angelenos getting vaccinated so we can beat this...


How 9/11 era and War on Terror weakened US politics and produced President Trump

KCRW has spent this week talking about the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the American-backed government in Afghanistan, and what the departure of U.S. troops means for Afghan people. The U.S. spent 20 years waging the War on Terror in Afghanistan, which eroded Americans’ confidence in our government. This war and the 9/11 era also enabled the presidential win by Donald Trump. That’s all according to Spencer Ackerman, national security reporter and author of “Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era...