Every week, Mr. Media posts lively, thought-provoking, funny and even musical interviews with guests representing a wide spectrum of entertainment, politics, business sports and more. These were simply the very best interviews of 2014!
10. Rock star Graham Parker
(April 8, 2014)
GRAHAM PARKER podcast excerpt: “I emailed the people in The Rumour and most said, ‘Hell, yes! Let’s go! There wasn’t too much of ‘I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do…’ It was the perfect time to reunite. After I did it, I looked on the Internet and saw that almost every band in the world had already done the same thing and I was like, ‘D’OHHH! Not very original is it?’”
When I was a rock critic in the 1980s, I avoided Parker. He had an ugly reputation with journalists and who needed the aggravation? But thanks to a charming documentary about his life and career, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to speak with the legendary singer. And it was worth the wait.
9. Arrow TV writer Marc Guggenheim
(April 4, 2014)
MARC GUGGENHEIM podcast excerpt: “There hasn’t been any pressure on ‘Arrow’ (to follow the comic book). From jump, we’ve always said, ‘This is our version of Green Arrow. It’s going to take inspiration from the comics but it’s not going to follow the comics religiously.’ Part of the advantage of doing Green Arrow instead of Batman or Superman is that Oliver Queen’s origin is not as set in stone as Spider-Man’s, Batman’s or Superman’s. We have license to deviate from the comics. What we often do is use the comics and the expectations they create against the viewer. We use the comic books to set up the expectation and then we subvert the expectation.”
Marc Guggenheim knew, and I knew, that his ongoing work as a writer of The CW’s hit “Arrow” was what drew our attention to him, but his first novel, Overwatch, really is a tremendous read, a first-rate page-turner.
8. Reginald Roundtree, WTSP Channel 10 Tampa Bay news anchor
(January 23, 2014)
REGINALD ROUNDTREE podcast excerpt: “As a Miami cop, the most dangerous calls were always the domestics, where the cops go to a home where there is violence going on. Especially the shift I worked on — midnights. Or stopping cars at 5 in the morning, on dark, unlit city streets, walking up to strangers, it was very, very dangerous. You can do 5,000 quiet traffic stops, the 5,001st will be the bad guy with the gun waiting for you to walk up to the car to blow your brains out.”
If you don’t live in the Tampa Bay, Florida area you’re probably wondering what an interview with a local TV anchor is doing on this list. But Reggie Roundtree was kind enough to be our guest for the first-ever, live-on-location video shoot (at Elevate Fitness in St. Petersburg, Florida), and it went super-smooth, largely because of his participation. We also had live music, thanks to the Johnny Zoom Hi-Fi Show; Johnny is also the composer of the Mr. Media theme music, “Stereo Receiver.”
7. Conan TV writer Rob Kutner with Joel Levinson and Stephen Levinson
(August 6, 2014)
ROB KUTNER podcast excerpt: “The great thing about the future is there is no accountability. People can never go back and prove that you were wrong. This also delves into history a bit–we have a remix of the Battle of the Alamo, we have the Civil War envisioned as a therapy session where Maria Bamford plays the North and the South and Dr. Katz–Jonathan Katz–is the mediator.”
Two performances by the Levinson Brothers from the video musical “2776” were the highlight, but I still remember the look on Rub Kutner’s face when I interrupted him to say his boss, Conan O’Brien was calling in. Good times!
6. Singer-songwriter Josh Alan Friedman
(January 3, 2014)
JOSH ALAN FRIEDMAN podcast excerpt: “Al Goldstein was arrested once for showing pubic hair. He enjoyed being arrested; it was a great pleasure for him! The first arrest was eight hours after putting New York City Mayor John Lindsay’s erection — a composite photo — in the paper. That was the first time the NYPD raided Screw magazine’s offices and took Al out in handcuffs… He was a Hebrew pitbull. I wouldn’t say he was a defender of the First Amendment. The First Amendment may have been his defender. But he was the one who tested it and flexed the First Amendment’s muscles more than any other publisher in America, to see how far it would go for freedom of the press. And he made it go far. And he proved how strong it is.”
Great music by Josh, of course, and a cameo by his dog, too. And all of the Friedman men have now been guests: novelist dad Bruce Jay Friedman, artist Drew Friedman, and memoirist Kipp Friedman are all in the Mr. Media archives.
5. Singer Tommy Roe
(January 20, 2014)
TOMMY ROE Podcast Excerpt: “The Beatles were full of questions. John and George got me aside and John said, ‘Y’know, we do ‘Sheila’ during our shows. But I’m not sure if we’re playing it correctly.’ So John played it and was playing chords backward! He was playing A-D-E-D instead of A-E-D-E. He said, ‘I knew something was wrong.’”
Ostensibly, this was going to be a trip down memory roe with Tommy recalling how The Beatles opened for him on tour in London in 1963 and that he opened for them in the first U.S. concert in January 1964. But then I noticed he had a guitar sitting next to him and coerced the man behind massive 1960s hits such as “Dizzy” to play for us — twice!
4. Newspaper publisher Charles W. Cherry II
(April 3, 2014)
CHARLES W. CHERRY II podcast excerpt: “There is no budget function Obama’s initiative for young men of color; there is no law. And once that personal interest of Obama’s is gone, or once he’s out of office, what happens?”
I was really inspired by Cherry’s 20-year-old self-help book, Excellence Without Excuse: The Black Student’s Guide to Academic Excellence and wanted to talk with him about it. But I also knew the publisher of the African-American newspapers the Florida Courier and Daytona Times held some less-than-flattering views of President Barack Obama and his belief that the President hadn’t done enough for minorities in his first term in office. This show was viewed far less often than others on this list but it’s a damn good one, well worth your time. (And mine — we did this show twice because I forgot to hit record the first time.)
3. Ventriloquist Jay Johnson
(September 2, 2014)
JAY JOHNSON podcast excerpt: “On ‘Soap,’ the show’s creator, Susan Harris, would give us these moments of great pathos and sadness, followed by something completely hysterical. Each scene was its own little moment. They would shoot two or three different Chuck and Bob scenes and put them in two or three different shows. I felt that I was an actor playing the part of a ventriloquist. The fact that I was a ventriloquist was the reason I got the job.”
The show-stopper moment for the star of the 1970s ABC-TV sitcom “Soap”: watch when Johnson throws his voice 3,000 miles to the dummy in my lap. That’s entertainment!
2. Actor Theodore Bikel
(December 4, 2014)
THEODORE BIKEL podcast excerpt: “It was an extraordinary experience, working with Humphrey Bogart on ‘The African Queen,’ because he seemed so laid-back, so laconic–monosyllabic, almost. Until he got on the set. And then there was a full-blown performance. And I can’t tell you, to this day, where and when it came together. It was a lesson that I’ve never forgotten. He was also very pleasant to be with, pleasant to talk with. We played a lot of chess together. We had some laughs together. This was no standoffish personality. He was a wonderful guy.”
I was excited to have 91-year-old Bikel as a guest — he co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on The African Queen, for heaven’s sake! And he didn’t disappoint, offering up stories of a lifetime of co-stars, film and theater experiences, memories of Nazi occupation in World War II, and of his parallel life as a social activist. Great stuff.
1. The 12th Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi
(December 9, 2014)
PETER CAPALDI podcast excerpt: “I find (being The Doctor) very exciting. Kindly props men and technicians keep telling me which switches to pull and how to operate the TARDIS. I don’t like to say to them they don’t have to tell me how to operate the TARDIS; I know how to operate the TARDIS already! I’ve been watching the show for years; I know exactly where to put my hands! It’s hugely exciting; there are some moments you really feel that you’re Doctor Who. There are few people in the world who got to do it.”
This was just more fun than any other interview in 2014, not only for me but for viewers and listeners. Capaldi came to the show to promote his turn as Leonardo da Vinci in the documentary, Inside the Mind of Leonardo da Vinci 3D. I was warned — twice! — not to focus on “Doctor Who” so I didn’t bring it up until near the end, which he seemed quite cool about. He was funny and engaging, exactly as you’d want him to be. If only I had had time to set me up with me dream date, The Doctor’s adorable companion, Jenna Coleman!
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