Press Play with Madeleine Brand
Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.
Santa Monica, CA
Arts & Culture Podcasts
Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.
‘Ghost students’ try scamming colleges, violence erupts over Pride month
In California, an estimated 1 in 5 community college applications are scams, amounting to hundreds of thousands of "ghost students” who are trying to steal financial aid. Hundreds gathered to protest and support the Glendale Unified School District’s decision to make June LGBTQ+ Pride month. Fighting erupted. Three were arrested. The book “Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma” explores questions about separating art from artists who’ve done horrible acts, such as Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and others. Summer is Hollywood Bowl season. Whether you’re in a box or more affordable seat, there’s an overflow of good food to bring for dinner before the show.
Patricia Arquette looks back on career, Apple pushes out VR headset
Patricia Arquette talks about “High Desert,” a twisted comedy about a former drug dealer who struggles to remain sober and cope with her mom’s death. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his presidential candidacy today, and former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to follow on Wednesday. On the Democratic side, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is polling at 20%. Southwest and American Airlines’ pilots unions voted last month in favor of a strike authorization, as negotiations over a new contract are ongoing. Meanwhile, demand is high for travel this summer. On Monday, Apple unveiled its first major new product in roughly a decade. Its Vision Pro is a virtual and augmented reality headset that looks like fancy ski goggles — priced at $3500.
AI remixes music industry, directors and studios reach deal
AI is reviving voices of deceased musicians and creating new tracks by contemporary artists. The tech could mean job loss, especially for people in technical roles such as mixing and mastering. The DGA reached a possible deal with Hollywood studios over the weekend. How could this affect the striking film/TV writers? South American migrants were bussed from Texas to New Mexico, then flown to Sacramento. California’s attorney general is evaluating criminal or civil action against people who sent those migrants. State lawmakers want to force big tech companies like Meta to pay for news articles that appear on their sites. Assemblymember Buffy Wicks sponsored a bill that would make this happen.
AI screenwriting, lemon-lime thirst quenchers, weekend film reviews
How serious is the threat of artificial intelligence replacing Hollywood writers? It’s a point of contention in the current Writers Guild strike. Senator Bernie Sanders says he’ll vote no on the debt ceiling deal. It passed the House on Wednesday with bipartisan support and is up for debate in the Senate. Nimbu pani, balanced between sweet and sour, uses optional spices and a funky black salt. Brazilian lemonade has creamy luxuriousness from sweetened condensed milk. Critics review the latest film releases: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Past Lives,” “The Boogeyman,” and “Shooting Stars.”
Love and immigration in film, curbing LA traffic with fees
Celine Song’s film “Past Lives” is about what happens when a girl from Korea emigrates and leaves behind her childhood sweetheart, and they reconnect decades later. State Farm, the largest home insurance provider in the state, will no longer issue new policies. It’s a sign that climate change is upending the economics of housing. With congestion pricing, the city would charge you for driving on busy roads or highways, maybe always or just during peak hours. LA Metro is expected to unveil details this summer. Casey DeSantis is among the few people her husband Ron takes political advice from. That makes her, according to some close to the couple, both his greatest asset and weakness. Automakers want to kill AM radio. Ford had plans to remove AM from all new vehicles starting next year, but backtracked after getting pressure from lawmakers.
‘Succession’ writer on finale, Rufus Wainwright on folk music tradition
Georgia Pritchett says the joy of writing “Succession” is seeing the characters develop, often in disturbing ways. She breaks down the series finale. Rufus Wainwright talks about his new album “Folkocracy,” his past operas, and his upcoming Walt Disney Concert Hall show. Big Supreme Court opinions usually drop in June, and there are several major cases left, including on voting rights, redistricting, and affirmative action. Prominent artificial intelligence leaders are warning that the technology puts humans at risk of extinction, on par with nuclear war and pandemics.
Memorial Day special: ‘Elephant Whisperers,’ ‘Dinner with the President’
On this Memorial Day, Press Play rebroadcasts some favorite interviews from the year. In South India, a couple adopts an abandoned baby elephant named Raghu, showing how humans and animals can thrive together. Author Alex Prud’homme explores the appetites of more than two dozen U.S. presidents in “Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House.” The documentary “Sometimes When We Touch” explores the rise of soft rock during the 1970s and 1980s.
What to make with loquats, how Tina Turner reinvented herself
Loquat trees seem to be everywhere in SoCal this season. Eat the egg-shaped, apricot-colored fruits fresh off trees, or use them to make jams, syrups, chutney, and more. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says debt ceiling talks are continuing with President Biden. They went better on Wednesday, but lawmakers remain “far apart” on some issues. Tina Turner died on May 24 at age 83. KCRW replays an interview about a documentary that covers her relationship with Ike Turner, who physically and emotionally abused her for years. Critics review the latest film releases: “The Little Mermaid,” “You Hurt My Feelings,” “About My Father,” and “The Wrath of Becky.”
LAPD’s first robo dog, Bricia Lopez’s ‘Asada’ cookbook
The LAPD will soon get a $280,000 robot dog that’s meant to help officers avoid dangerous and potentially violent encounters. Activists are raising privacy concerns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launches his long-expected presidential campaign on Twitter alongside Elon Musk. The move signals a shift in the conservative media landscape. British Thomas J. Price makes massive sculptures of ordinary people. They’re part of his first major U.S. exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s Downtown LA gallery. LA restaurateur and author Bricia Lopez says her new Mexican-style grilling cookbook “Asada” is filled with “recipes that embody Los Angeles.”
Dodgers’ fiasco over Pride Night, Norway’s EV lessons for California
The Dodgers reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their Pride Night celebration, after disinviting them over conservative backlash. KCRW looks at the leveling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Russia claims to control the once lively city, but Ukraine denies it. As California prepares for an EV future, KCRW looks at Norway, where nearly roughly 80% of all cars sold are battery-powered. “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” covers the actor’s childhood in Canada, movie and TV stardom, and struggle with Parkinson's disease.
Missy Elliott’s cultural dominance, Sen. Feinstein’s ability to serve
This year, Missy Elliott will become the first woman rapper inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. KCRW looks at her influence from the 2000s to today. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s return to Washington D.C. was expected to bring relief to Democrats, but so far it’s intensified longstanding concerns about her health. A Supreme Court decision over copyright and artistic expression splits two liberal justices as they trade barbs in court opinions. After nearly a year of debate, California and neighboring states have agreed on a temporary plan to avert disaster on the Colorado River. Will it be enough? The Lakers’ chances to win a 17th NBA championship are now slim to none. But basketball in LA won’t stop thanks to major WNBA storylines.
How to make lobster rolls, SCOTUS sides with tech companies
Families of terrorist attack victims sued Twitter and Google for allowing ISIS to use their platforms. But the Supreme Court sided with tech companies. In docuseries “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed,” a former member of the 80s boy band alleges he was raped by a Jose Menendez, a top executive at RCA Records. For lobster rolls, hot or cold, you want meat from the knuckle and claw. Don’t completely rely on the tail because its toughness doesn’t fare well in a roll. Critics review the latest film releases: “Fast X,” “Master Gardener,” “Sanctuary,” and “White Men Can't Jump.”
Enshrining shelter as a right, cooking Filipino American desserts
The California Constitution would be amended to guarantee housing as a fundamental right — if a new bill passes the state legislature and is signed into law. In her new dessert cookbook “Mayumu,” author Abi Balingit whips up confections inspired by her Filipino heritage and California upbringing. The U.S. Treasury warns that without a debt limit increase, the government will run out of money around June 1. What would this look like globally? In Half Moon Bay, gender equity and experience are at the heart of a fight over the future of the famed Mavericks big wave surf competition.
Gen Z chooses snacks over meals, lawmakers hear testimony on AI
Millennials and Generation Z are eating more snacks daily compared to other generations. They want convenient fuel without the effort of cooking. Three tech leaders testified at a Senate hearing on artificial intelligence. The panel included Sam Altman, who runs the nonprofit that developed ChatGPT. The Frontline documentary “Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court” looks at how the two became a power couple in GOP politics.
Gloria Molina tribute, millennial wealth, end of MTV News
KCRW remembers Gloria Molina, the first Latina on the LA City Council, Board of Supervisors, and State Assembly. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is being sued by former campaign opponent Joe Collins, who claims she defamed him. Will this case affect other political races? In terms of wealth, millennials are on par with Baby Boomers and Gen X, according to the new book “Generations” by San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean Twenge. Paramount announced last week that it would cut MTV News due to budget concerns. Former correspondent Tabitha Soren talks about the program’s 36-year legacy.
Pavolva for Mother’s Day, film reviews, the end of Title 42
Pavlova features a soft-centered crunchy meringue that plays with whipped cream and fresh fruit. This time of year, berries are the star. Critics review the latest film releases: “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” “Blackberry,” “Monica,” and “L'immensità.” More than three years after the U.S. declared a public health emergency, KCRW looks at how COVID-19 has changed our lives. With Title 42 set to expire tonight, San Diego braces for a flood of asylum seekers. Tens of thousands of migrants are already gathered along the border with Mexico.
LA’s newest black bear, why 2 LA juvenile halls could close
New York Congressman George Santos has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of financial crimes. He remains on the job for now, but faces decades in prison. A state corrections board is calling for the closure of two LA County juvenile halls amid staffing shortages and reports of drug use and increased violence. The story of how one woman brought down KKK leader D.C. Stephenson, one of the most powerful men in America, is the subject of Timothy Egan’s latest book. A young black bear has moved in. His name is BB-12, and he’s been spotted around Malibu Creek State Park and in Point Mugu State Park.
Breast cancer risks, Americans’ attitudes about trans people
Women should be receiving regular mammograms starting at age 40, according to new draft guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Americans have conflicting views on anti-trans policies being pushed in Republican states, says a new Washington Post-KFF poll. KCRW looks at the nuances. The killer in the mass shooting at a Dallas-area mall was Latino, and according to reports, may have held white supremacist beliefs. Is that common? More than a dozen universities have closed in Japan due to its declining population. Could the U.S. be in store for the same fate, as college enrollment slips here? In Netflix’s “Beef,” two strangers get into a dispute in a parking lot, and the random encounter devolves into catfishing, kidnapping, and more.
What CA reparations could look like, ‘London Brew’ honors Miles Davis
California’s Reparations Task Force recommends billions in payments and a formal apology to descendants of slavery. A New York jury is set to begin deliberating a civil case against Donald Trump. E Jean Carroll is suing the former president for allegedly raping her in 1996. The Writers Guild and AMPTP aren’t close to a deal, but the studios agree that showrunners must cross picket lines to do the non-writing parts of their jobs. Miles Davis changed modern music when he released “Bitches Brew” 53 years ago. Today, a new project called “London Brew” pays homage to his legacy. Tonight at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers will play the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals.
Film reviews, far-right groups’ future, Barbie with Down Syndrome
Critics review the latest film releases: “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3,” “One Ranger,” “What's Love Got to Do with It,” and “The Eight Mountains.” After plotting the January 6 insurrection, four members of the Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy. What’s next for far-right groups? Eighth graders’ understanding of U.S. history and civics is declining, according to data out this week. The results may signal a democracy in trouble. Mattel recently unveiled the first Barbie with Down Syndrome. The doll is part of the fashionista collection that’s designed to be more inclusive. On May 6, Charles III will be crowned king — in Britain’s first coronation in 70 years. The religious ceremony will be filled with symbolic rituals.