Soon after Tanya Saracho got the green light to write a pilot for her first TV series, she contracted a dangerous spinal infection that left her stuck in bed for months. But Saracho rallied and her show 'Vida' has just premiered on Starz. A former Chicago-based playwright, Saracho tells us about her tough first experiences as a TV writer and how she ended up running the first all Latinx writers room in cable.
As the series ‘Dear White People’ launches its second season on Netflix, the show about black students grappling with life at a fictional Ivy League university maintains a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Creator Justin Simien tells us about writing things satirically and then watching them become reality. And he explains why for many years, he didn’t believe he could be a part of creating pop culture.
The documentary ‘Bombshell’ explores the life and legacy of Hedy Lamarr, a star from Hollywood’s golden age and an inventor whose ideas are still in use in wireless technology. Her inventions weren’t recognized until late in her ultimately tragic life, and never made her any money. ‘Bombshell’ director Alexandra Dean tells us about Lamarr’s extraordinary career, on-screen and off.
Susanne Daniels has run the entertainment divisions of The WB, Lifetime and MTV. In those days, she sometimes faced a challenge of convincing big names to come to her network. Now, she oversees original content at YouTube, and she says getting talent is not a problem. She tells us about making the transition from traditional TV to streaming, and how YouTube Red is evolving with projects like ‘Cobra Kai.’
When director Chloé Zhao met horse trainer Brady Jandreau on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, she knew she wanted to put him in her next project. Then, Jandreau--a rising rodeo star--suffered a devastating riding accident, and Zhao knew she had the starting point of her new film. Zhao and Jandreau tell us how they made ‘The Rider’ on location in South Dakota on a shoestring budget with first-time actors.
‘Blockers ’is comedy writer Kay Cannon’s directorial debut. When she was hired for the project, she had some work to do on a script about girls, written by a bunch of guys. Cannon tells us how she made ‘Blockers’ funnier and more feminist.
‘The Looming Tower’ on Hulu follows FBI agent Ali Soufan as he tries to prevent an Al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil. The real Soufan says watching an actor play him has been weird, but could have an important payoff: teaching people what led to 9/11 and preventing another attack. Soufan and ‘The Looming Tower’ author Lawrence Wright tell us how they adapted the complicated story for TV.
TV writer Nell Scovell’s credits include ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Murphy Brown,’ ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ and ‘NCIS.’ When she started working in TV in the late 1980’s, more often than not, she’d be the only woman in the writers room. And in a lot of places, she's found, that's still the case. She tells us about calling out Letterman in Vanity Fair and shares stories from her new book ‘Just the Funny Parts.’
Sometimes our guests have so many interesting things to say that we can’t fit it all into one show. This week we bring you delicious leftovers: stuff that was too good to leave on the cutting-room floor, including insights from writers facing distinct challenges. Listen in for stories from comedy writer Janis Hirsch, writer-director Armando Iannucci, and showrunners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino.
You might know puppeteer and filmmaker Frank Oz as Miss Piggy or Cookie Monster. He is also Yoda, and he directed movies including 'Little Shop of Horrors' and 'What About Bob?' A new documentary called ‘Muppet Guys Talking’ reunites Oz and some of the other talents behind the Muppets for the first time in years. Director Frank Oz and producer Victoria Labalme tell us about getting the gang together again.
Some of the scenes in Armando Iannucci’s new film, ‘The Death of Stalin,’ seem a bit over the top. But Iannucci says says he actually had to downplay the real story to make it believable. The political satirist behind ‘The Thick of It’ and ‘Veep’ tells us about his first time working on a project based on real people and how he had to work to balance comedy and terror when writing about the chaos that followed Stalin's death in 1953.
As 'Black Panther' mauls box office records, we stopped by a theater showing the film in a new panoramic format called ScreenX. We get reactions from 'Black Panther' fans and talk to Paul Kim, the man who’s trying to make ScreenX take off in America. Plus, we revisit our interview with director Ryan Coogler.
A year ago, a satirical horror film about race relations in America would not have sounded like an idea for a hit movie. But ‘Get Out’ was a box-office smash and it’s nominated for 4 Oscars, including best picture. Jordan Peele is also nominated for best director and best original screenplay--not bad for someone making his directorial debut. Peele tells us about the years-long process of getting to ‘Get Out.’
For the now Oscar-nominated Chilean film ‘A Fantastic Woman,’ director Sebastián Lelio cast transgender actress Daniela Vega as a trans woman dealing with the sudden loss of of her partner. Lelio says box office grosses were less than his last movie, but in terms of starting a social conversation in Chile, the film has been incredibly powerful. Both Lelio and Vega join us to talk about making 'A Fantastic Woman.'
‘Mudbound’ director of photography Rachel Morrison just made history as the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for best cinematography. She’s also the first woman to shoot a big comic book movie: the upcoming Marvel mega-hit, ‘Black Panther.’ She fought hard to get to the top of her male-dominated field, but says more women are getting a shot at getting the shot.
Documentarian Alex Gibney is known for his award-winning investigative films on Enron, Wikileaks and Scientology. For his newest project, he took on the Volkswagen diesel-car emissions scandal and this time, it was personal. Gibney tells us about his new Netflix series ‘Dirty Money,’ in which his look at VW is one of six documentaries in a series on corporate greed.
Tom Rob Smith seems like a nice enough guy, but many of his works are about grisly murders. His newest project is ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace,’ FX’s second entry in its American Crime Story anthology. The series examines the murder of the fashion icon, and looks at the lives of the other men who died at the hand of killer Andrew Cunanan. Smith tells us why writing about murder is a useful way of exploring a society.
Amazon’s ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ tells the story of Midge Maisel--the perfect well-to-do 1950’s New York housewife who turns to stand-up comedy when her husband leaves her. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband and producing partner Daniel Palladino tell us about the work that goes into filming a period series in Manhattan and their painstaking process for selecting music for the show.
In 2012, director Ziad Doueiri broke Lebanese law by shooting a movie in Israel. His latest film,‘The Insult,’ has nothing to do with Israel, but Doueiri still has enemies in the Middle East who tried to stop the release of this movie. They failed, and now 'The Insult' is shortlisted for Oscar in the foreign language category and a box-office hit in Lebanon.
Now that Russia has been banned from the upcoming Winter Olympics, we thought it would be a good time to revisit our interview with ‘Icarus’ director Bryan Fogel. We talk about his crazy journey of meeting, befriending, and then very likely saving the life of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the architect of Russia’s state-run Olympic doping program. Plus, an all-new Banter about the effort to keep the #MeToo momentum going.