Billy Joel To Guest DJ, Reflect On Every Beatles Album

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“I’m going to go through their albums and talk about some of the songs that have stayed with me the rest of my life,” singer says

Billy Joel will reflect on every song on every Beatles album as part of the singer’s stint as a guest DJ on SiriusXM’s new Beatles Channel.

Joel, who is touring all summer, shares hard-won wisdom about fatherhood and marriage, and tries to make sense of being a stadium act

“Just like you, I love the Beatles,” Joel said in a statement. “I still think that they were the best band that ever was. And I’m going to go through their albums and talk about some of the songs that have stayed with me the rest of my life.”

The first installment of the guest DJ session, which airs July 21st at 5 p.m. on the Beatles Channel, finds Joel going track-by-track on the Beatles’ first two Capitol-released American LPs, Meet the Beatles and The Beatles’ Second Album.

As evidenced by the below clip, wherein Joel reminisces about “This Boy” and school dances, the singer also performs parts of some tracks on the piano:

Joel has performed upwards of 25 Beatles songs live over the course of his career. Most recently, he debuted his rendition of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” to mark the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“Revisiting The Beatles’ album collection through the eyes of a musical icon is a rare treat, and we are honored to do this with Billy,” President and Chief Content Officer of SiriusXM Scott Greenstein said in a statement. “This series will feel like you’re sitting down with Billy at home listening to tracks on every Beatles album together, and hearing Billy’s rendition of pieces of some songs. The Beatles in the hands and words of Billy Joel is truly something special for our listeners.”

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Ryan Seacrest Returning As Host Of ‘American Idol’

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After three months of negotiations, Seacrest is returning to the show that made him a star.

Seacrest is very much in.

After many months of negotiations, the longtime host ofآ American Idolآ has finalized a deal to return to the franchise that made him a star. He joins Katy Perry, the only confirmed judge, on the ABC reboot, which is expected to roll out with heavy fanfare this spring.آ He used his other TV platform,آ Live with Kelly and Ryan,آ to make the announcement Thursday. Or rather, his co-host Kelly Ripa used it to make the announcement, but Seacrest insisted it was “absolutely” confirmed, “without a doubt.”

Following a few minutes spent talking about the New York heat, Ripaآ excitedly revealed that Seacrest would be returning to the storied franchise after checking with him that she could reveal the big news. He suggested going back to the show would be like returning to “a 15-year relationship,” not knowing why the relationship ended. “The show is going, we thought well, and then all of a sudden we broke up,” he said of the end ofآ Idolآ on Fox. “I thought it would be great to get back together at some point.”

Ripaآ praised him for knowing how to deal with contestants who have just received the devastating news that they have been voted off. “You make that show. You are the heart and soul,”آ she told herآ Liveآ co-host of three months. “People really don’t understand how difficult it is to be there, be supportive, keep the show moving at the clip that it moves and then back away when you need to back away … and step away when you need to step in … because you make it look so easy, no one understands how difficult it is. Only you can do it.”

ABC Entertainment president Channingآ Dungeyآ was similarly enthusiastic. “So much ofآ American Idol’s overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan, whose larger-than-life personality and laudable dedication to creating quality entertainment has made him a true master of his craft,â€‌ sheآ said in a statement. “His talent is limitless, and I can’t think of a more appropriate person to honor theآ Idolآ legacy as it takes on new life than the man who has been there through it all.â€‌

Seacrestآ added in a statement of his own, “It’s genuinely hard to put into words whatآ American Idolآ means to me. I’m so grateful for the show and all the career and life opportunities it’s allowed me to experience. It’s been an incredible journey from day one.آ To be asked to return this year, at my new home at Disney|ABC, is an honor, if not a bit surreal.â€‌

To make it all work, Seacrest is expected to be in Los Angeles for live Idol shows on Sunday evenings, and then fly overnight to appear on Live and then do his iHeartRadio drive-time show on Monday morning. In a bid for increased synergy, Seacrest revealed on Thursday’s Live that eliminated Idol contestants would be stopping by Live after they exit Idol. Auditions for the new iteration of Idol, which spent its first 15 seasons on Fox, will begin in mid-August, though Seacrest will likely only attend a handful.

The news comes nearly three months after ABC executives first suggested Seacrest’s involvement was highly likely, at that time a logical conclusion considering he had recently joined the ABC/Disney family as co-host ofآ Live. That he had also relocated to New York for the latter would certainly complicate things, but logistical complexities had never seemed to get in Seacrest’s way. “I think he can do both; he thinks he can do both, but he’s giving it some serious thought,â€‌ ABC’s reality chief Rob Mills toldآ THRآ in early May. Seacrest seemed similarly if cautiously optimistic when discussing the possibility with Ripa on air around the same time.

Asآ THRآ revealed in aآ recent cover story, the plan was to have Seacrest’s deal closed in time to announce at ABC’s upfront presentation in mid-May. Instead, the platform was used to announce a deal for Perry, whose traffic-stopping $25 million fee, a new talent show record, would soon leak to the press. Multiple insiders say that Fremantle, which suddenly had significantly less give in itsآ Idolآ budget, came back to Seacrest with an offer roughly half the size of its first. The supposed justification — that the new arrangement would require less of its famously busy host — didn’t make it any less insulting.

By early June, Seacrest’s camp had requested his name be withdrawn from the negotiation process. ABC’s top executives, allegedly blindآsided by Fremantle’s low-ball offer, were sent scrambling, according to sources close to the negotiation. Ultimately, Seacrest’s new bosses were able to make it right, or at least considerably more palatable for their newest and biggest star. Their offer included, among other things, a salary north of $10 million, putting him back in the general vicinity that he’d been in at the show’s conclusion. Still, the process dragged on for several more weeks as the many players involved squabbled over other facets of the deal.

Working in ABC’s favor from the outset was Seacrest’s affection for the singing competition, which spent nearly a decade as the No. 1 show on television. “I’ve always loved the show,â€‌ he toldآ THRآ thisآ spring. “And if I could do it forever, I would do it forever.” Lest anyone forgets,آ he closed out the fifteenthآ and then-final season on Fox with the famous signoff, “Good night America … for now,â€‌ in part because he didn’t believe that would or should be it.

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Martin Landau Passes Away At 89

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His résumé includes ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’ and ‘North by Northwest.’ It does not, however, include ‘Star Trek.’

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.

Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of “unexpected complications” after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

After he quit CBS’ Mission: Impossible after three seasons in 1969 because of a contract dispute, Landau’s career was on the rocks until he was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Abe Karatz, the business partner of visionary automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).

Landau received a best supporting actor nomination for that performance, then backed it up the following year with another nom for starring as Judah Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist who has his mistress (Angelica Huston) killed, in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Landau lost out on Oscar night to Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, respectively, in those years but finally prevailed for his larger-than-life portrayal of horror-movie legend Lugosi in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton.

Landau also starred as Commander John Koenig on the 1970s science-fiction series Space: 1999opposite his Mission: Impossible co-star Barbara Bain, his wife from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek, which went to Leonard Nimoy (who later effectively replaced Landau on Mission: Impossibleafter Trek was canceled).

Landau also was an admired acting teacher who taught the craft to the likes of Jack Nicholson. And in the 1950s, he was best friends with James Dean and, for several months, the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe. “She could be wonderful, but she was incredibly insecure, to the point she could drive you crazy,” he told The New York Times in 1988.

Landau was born in Brooklyn on June 20, 1928. At age 17, he landed a job as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, but he turned down a promotion and quit five years later to pursue acting.

“It was an impulsive move on my part to do that,” Landau told The Jewish Journal in 2013. “To become an actor was a dream I must’ve had so deeply and so strongly because I left a lucrative, well-paying job that I could do well to become an unemployed actor. It’s crazy if you think about it. To this day, I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, ‘You did what?!’

In 1955, he auditioned for Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio (choosing a scene from Clifford Odets’ Clash by Night against the advice of friends), and he and Steve McQueen were the only new students accepted that year out of the 2,000-plus aspirants who had applied.

With his dark hair and penetrating blue eyes, Landau found success on New York stages in Goat Song, Stalag 17 and First Love. Hitchcock caught his performance on opening night opposite Edward G. Robinson in a road production of Middle of the Night, the first Broadway play written by Paddy Chayefsky, and cast him as the killer Leonard in North by Northwest.

In Middle of the Night, “I played a very macho guy, 180 degrees from Leonard, who I chose to play as a homosexual — very subtly — because he wanted to get rid of Eva Marie Saint with such a vengeance,” he recalled in a 2012 interview.

As the ally of James Mason and nemesis of Saint and Cary Grant, Landau plummets to his death off Mount Rushmore in the movie’s climactic scene. With his slick, sinister gleam and calculating demeanor, he attracted the notice of producers and directors.

He went on to perform for such top directors as Joseph L. Mankiewicz in Cleopatra (1963) — though he said most of his best work on that film was sent to the cutting-room floor — George Stevens in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), John Sturges in The Hallelujah Trail (1965) and Henry Hathaway in Nevada Smith (1966).

Landau met Bruce Geller, the eventual creator of Mission: Impossible, when he invited the writer to an acting class. Bain was in the class as well, and Geller wrote for them the parts of spies Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter. Landau earned an Emmy nomination for each of his three seasons on the series.

He could have starred in another series.

“I turned down Star Trek. It would’ve been torturous,” he said during a 2011 edition of the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television. “I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?”

Landau found a kindred spirit in Burton, who also cast him in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and as the voice of a Vincent Price-like science teacher in the horror-movie homage, Frankenweenie (2012).

“Tim and I don’t finish a sentence,” Landau told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “There’s something oddly kinesthetic about it. We kind of understand each other.”

Landau played puppet master Geppetto in a pair of Pinocchio films and appeared in other films including Pork Chop Hill (1959), City Hall (1996), The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), Rounders (1998), Edtv (1999), The Majestic (2001), Lovely, Still (2008) and Mysteria (2011).

On television, he starred in the Twilight Zone episodes “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” and “The Jeopardy Room,” played the title role in the 1999 Showtime telefilm Bonnano: A Godfather’s Storyand could be found on The Untouchables, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, I Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

More recently, Landau earned Emmy noms for playing the father of Anthony LaPaglia’s character on CBS’ Without a Trace and guest-starring as an out-of-touch movie producer on HBO’s Entourage. He portrayed billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the 90-year-old husband of Anna Nicole Smith, in a 2013 Lifetime biopic about the sex symbol, and starred for Atom Egoyan opposite Christopher Plummer in Remember (2015).

And Landau appeared opposite Paul Sorvino in The Last Poker Game, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Landau worked as director, teacher and executive director at the Actors Studio West. He has been credited with helping to guide the talents of Huston, Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton in addition to Nicholson.

A documentary about his life, An Actor’s Actor: The Life of Martin Landau, is in the works.

Survivors include his daughters Susie (a writer-producer) and Juliet (an actress-dancer) from his marriage to Bain; sons-in-law Roy and Deverill; sister Elinor; granddaughter Aria; and godson Dylan. Donations can be made to the Actors Studio West.

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Van Morrison Announces New Album

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Van Morrison detailed his 37th studio album. Roll With the Punches, out September 22nd, contains covers of old blues and soul classics along with five new compositions from Van Morrison.

“The songs on Roll With the Punches– whether I’ve written them or not – they’re performance oriented,” the singer said in a statement. “Each song is like a story and I’m performing that story. That’s been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs, and I’ve always felt like that’s what I do.”

Roll With the Punches includes tunes by Bo Diddley (“I Can Tell,” “Ride on Josephine”), Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Automobile Blues”) and Little Walter (“Mean Old World”). Several of Van Morrison’s selections are popular post-war standards, like “Stormy Monday,” which has been recorded by Lou Rawls and the Allman Brothers and lead single “Bring It on Home to Me,” originally performed by Sam Cooke and later rendered as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.

The version of “Bring It on Home to Me” on Roll With the Punchescould have been recorded in the 1960s around the same time as the Thomas/Redding rendition. The guitar works up and down the scale in a predictable pattern, as if played by Stax stalwart Steve Cropper, and the drummer taps out a light beat in 6/8 time. Van Morrison stretches syllables in remarkable ways, making the word “bring” last for several measures, and background singers add controlled doses of gospel power.

“The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it – you just do it,” Van Morrison said. “I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing, people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”

Van Morrison self-produced Roll With the Punches, which features contributions from Jeff Beck, Paul Jones, Jason Rebello, Chris Farlowe and Georgie Fame. Following the album’s release, Van Morrison will embark on a short tour. He plays two gigs in the U.S. in September and four more in October. Starting in November, he has a series of performances scheduled in Scotland and England before wrapping up with two shows in Belfast, Ireland.

Roll With the Punches Track List

  1. “Roll With the Punches” (Van Morrison & Don Black)
    2. “Transformation” (Van Morrison)
    3. “I Can Tell” (Bo Diddley & Samuel Bernard Smith)
    4. “Stormy Monday / Lonely Avenue” (T-Bone Walker / Doc Pomus)
    5. “Goin’ To Chicago” (Count Basie & Jimmy Rushing)
    6. “Fame” (Van Morrison)
    7. “Too Much Trouble” (Van Morrison)
    8. “Bring It on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke)
    9. “Ordinary People” (Van Morrison)
    10. “How Far From God” (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
    11. “Teardrops From My Eyes” (Rudy Toombs)
    12. “Automobile Blues” (Lightnin’ Hopkins)
    13. “Benediction” (Mose Allison)
    14. “Mean Old World” (Little Walter)
    15. “Ride On Josephine” (Bo Diddley)

Van Morrison Tour Dates

September 10 – Hershey, PA @ Hersheypark Stadium
September 14 – Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater
October 13 – Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 14 – Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 20 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
October 21 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
November 6 – Edinburgh, SCT @ Edinburgh Playhouse
November 7 – Glasgow, SCT @ Glasgow Royal Court
November 12 – London, U.K. @ Eventim Apollo
November 13 – Birmingham, U.K. @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
November 15 – Liverpool, U.K. @ Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
November 20 – Cardiff, U.K. @ St. David’s Hall
November 21 – Bristol, U.K. @ Colston Hall
November 24 – Torquay, U.K. @ Princess Theatre
November 25 – Plymouth, U.K. @ Plymouth Pavilions
December 4 – Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel
December 5 – Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel

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Ringo Starr’s New Album Has A Little Help From His Friends

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Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will be reunited again on Starr’s forthcoming album, Give More Love, coming Sept. 15 on CD and digital formats from UMe, the Beatles drummer announced Friday (July 7), his 77th birthday.

A vinyl version of the album will be out Sept. 27. McCartney, along with Edgar Winter, Joe Walsh and Steve Lukather, perform on “We’re on the Road Again,” co-written by Starr and Lukather, which leads off the album. McCartney contributes bass and also backing vocals.

The album features a host of famous names on its 10 main tracks, including Peter Frampton, Benmont Tench, Timothy B. Schmit, Richard Page, Nathan East, Steve Dudas, Dave Stewart and Don Was. The album in digital and CD form also includes four remakes of past Ringo songs: “Back Off Boogaloo,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “You Can’t Fight Lightning” and “Photograph.”

“Back Off Boogaloo,” taken from the original recently rediscovered record, features Jeff Lynne. “You Can’t Fight Lightning” is sung by Ringo and Alberta Cross, while “Photograph” and “Don’t Pass Me By” has Ringo and Vandaveer. Cross and Vandaveer performed at Ringo’s 2016 Peace and Love event.

Starr told writer David Wild in the announcement for the album that he and Dave Stewart had originally planned to do a country album, but that was scrapped after he decided to tour again with the All-Starr Band. “That’s how I ended up making another album at home and writing all kinds of songs with all kinds of friends — everybody giving more love and just letting the music flow,” he told Wild. “We do it in the guesthouse. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get each time, but this one seemed to have its own great energy from the start.”

This year’s annual Peace and Love event to celebrate Ringo’s birthday with friends and fans was held at the Capitol Tower in Los Angeles. The friends on hand included brother-in-law Joe Walsh, filmmaker David Lynch, former Ringo All-Starr Edgar Winter and current All-Starr Band drummer Gregg Bissonette.

Ringo Starr, ‘Give More Love’

Album track list and credits:

Produced by Ringo Star
Recorded by Bruce Sugar
Mixed by Ringo Starr and Bruce Sugar
Pro Tools Editing: Bruce Sugar
Recorded at Roccabella West
Mixed at Roccabella West

“We’re on the Road Again”
Richard Starkey, Steve Lukather
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Paul McCartney: Bass
Steve Lukather: Guitar and Keyboards
Jim Cox: Piano
Backing Vocals: RS PM JW GN GB GM EW RM SL

Richard Starkey, Peter Frampton
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Peter Frampton: Guitar, Background Vocals
​Benmont Tench: Keyboards
Timothy B. Schmit, Richard Page, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals
Matt Legge: Additional Engineering:

“Show Me the Way”
Richard Starkey, Steve Lukather
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Steve Lukather: Guitar and Keyboards
Paul McCartney: Bass
Jim Cox: Organ
Timothy B. Schmit, Richard Page, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

“Speed of Sound”
Richard Starkey, Richard Marx
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Richard Marx: Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Lukather: Guitar
Peter Frampton: Guitar, Talkbox guitar solo
Nathan East: Bass
Windy Wagner, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

“Standing Still”
Richard Starkey, Gary Burr
​Ringo Starr: Vocals, Percussion, Claps
Nathan East: Upright Bass
Gary Burr: Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocals
Georgia Middleman: Backing Vocals
Greg Leisz: Dobro
Steve Dudas: Guitar
Bruce Sugar: Drum Programming, Claps

“King of the Kingdom”
Richard Starkey
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Nathan East: Bass
Dave “Wawa” Stewart: Guitar
Edgar Winter: Tenor Sax
Steve Dudas: Guitar
Bruce Sugar: Keyboards, Synth Programming
Windy Wagner, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

Richard Starkey, Glen Ballard
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Joe Walsh: Guitar
Don Was: Bass
​Benmont Tench: Keyboards
Glen Ballard: Rhodes Piano, Backing Vocals
Windy Wagner, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

“So Wrong for So Long”
Richard Starkey, Dave Stewart
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Dave Stewart: Guitars
Nathan East: Upright Bass
Greg Leisz: Pedal Steel Guitar
Jim Cox: Keyboards
Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman: Backing Vocals
Ned Douglas: Additional Engineering

“Shake It Up”
Richard Starkey, Gary Nicholson
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Don Was: Upright Bass
Steve Dudas: Guitars
Gary Nicholson: Acoustic Guitar
Edgar Winter: Piano
Windy Wagner, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

“Give More Love”
Richard Starkey, Gary Nicholson
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals and Percussion
Steve Dudas: Guitars
Matt Bissonette: Bass
Greg Bissonette: Hang Drum
Jim Cox: Keyboards
Timothy B. Schmit, Richard Page, Amy Keys: Backing Vocals

“Back Off Boogaloo”
Richard Starkey, George Harrison
​Ringo Starr: Drums, Vocals, Percussion, Guitar
Joe Walsh: Guitar
Jeff Lynne: Acoustic Guitar
Nathan East: Bass
Bob Malone: Piano
Steve Jay: Additional Engineering

“You Can’t Fight Lightning” – Ringo Starr and Alberta Cross
Richard Starkey
​Ringo Starr: Vocals
Petter Ericson Stakee: Guitar, Backing Vocals and Percussion
Matthew Pynn: Guitar and Lap Steel
​Fredrik Aspelin: Drums and Percussion
Erik MacQueen: Bass Guitar
Pete Remm: Piano and Hammond Organ
Viktor Buck and Peter R.Ericson: Backing vocals
Track produced and arranged by Petter Ericson Stakee and Peter R Ericson
Engineers: Viktor Buck and Fred Appelvist
Recorded at Fred’s Kitchen Studios in Stockholm

“Photograph” – Ringo Starr and Vandaveer
Richard Starkey, George Harrison
​Ringo Starr: Vocals
Mark Charles Heidinger: Vocals, Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar
Rose Guerin: Vocals
J. Tom Hnatow: Resonator Guitar, Electric guitar
Robby Cosenza: Drums and Percussion
Track produced and engineered by Duane Lundy

“Don’t Pass Me By” – Ringo Starr and Vandaveer
Richard Starkey
​Ringo Starr: Vocals, Piano
Mark Charles Heidinger: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar
Rose Guerin: Vocals
J. Tom Hnatow: Resonator Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Robby Cosenza: Drums, Percussion, Harmonica
Track produced and engineered by Duane Lundy

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Rachel Maddow: The Rolling Stone Interview

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Rachel Maddow sprints onto the set of The Rachel Maddow Show, brain on fire, and slides into her chair. It’s two minutes before airtime at MSNBC’s cavernous New York studio in Rockefeller Center and Maddow, dressed in her standard on-air black blazer and black tank top, Levi’s and blue suede Adidas Gazelles stealthily hidden by her giant desk, hunches over her keyboard, pounding out last-minute revisions to her script with the speed of a court reporter. On the agenda this Friday evening in May: the ever-evolving Trump-Russia scandal and the controversial termination of FBI director James Comey, a story that might as well have been concocted to suit Maddow’s brand of scathing, methodical deconstruction. She begins the hour on a note of quietly seething moral outrage, opening her monologue with a breakdown of the Comey firing, before moving through all the players in the Trump saga: Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Russian oligarchs, New York’s former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara – and ending with a note about a series of investigations taking place in various inspectors-general offices regarding the Trump-Russia matter. They could have a devastating impact on the administration – provided the president lets them continue, Maddow notes: “He’s already fired the FBI director. He’s already fired Preet Bharara and the other U.S. attorneys. He fired the deputy attorney general. Who do you think he’s going to fire next?”

Launched nearly a decade ago, The Rachel Maddow Show, hosted by an openly-gay Rhodes scholar who came to TV news by way of progressive Air America Radio, is now the number-one prime-time news program on cable television. It’s a significant though not totally improbable achievement for a show whose mantra, “Increase the amount of useful information in the world,” has taken on new resonance in the Trump era, when a single presidential tweet can receive breathless coverage by the mainstream press, and journalism itself is denounced as “fake news.” Though Trump’s so-far chaotic presidency has helped boost cable ratings across the board, no program has benefited as much as Maddow’s, whose audience has almost tripled, from 849,000 nightly viewers in 2014 to more than 2.3 million today, and growing. In mid-May, The Rachel Maddow Show was second only to the NBA playoffs as the most-watched program on cable, period.

In person, Maddow is taller than she appears on TV – a lanky five feet eleven – and also less feminine, her contact lenses replaced by chunky black glasses, mascara wiped off. Maddow’s one concession to the female norms of TV news is agreeing to wear makeup, which she does for precisely one hour and 15 minutes per day. Off camera, she dresses in grungy attire, which on an afternoon before Memorial Day means Levi’s, a beige T-shirt, a hole-ridden thrift-shop denim shirt, and camouflage Adidas Shell Toes. “They’re invisible,” she says about her sneakers, though she could be talking about herself. At 44, Maddow is naturally, neutrally pretty, which is a positive if one’s aim is to let the words, not the image, make the point. “I have no visual-presentation goals for myself,” she says in her office at 30 Rock. A long rack of near-identical dark suit jackets hangs on one wall. “It’s on purpose. You line me up with Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes and Brian Williams, and we’ve all got a very similar shade of the same haircut.”

As is true for many journalists, Maddow’s office is sort of a mess, with manila file folders stacked on the floor, and printouts of various stories she’s keeping track of piled on her desk and along the windowsill. “This is how I’m going to die one day – crushed under a pile of paper,” she says, giving me a quickie tour of her various tchotchkes: the Trout of North America wall calendar that she quickly flips to May (it was still on March); her Vladimir Putin nesting dolls; a G.I. Joe, still in its box; a metal Tabasco tub housing her Emmy, which is lying sideways, a tiny bit of gold orb emerging from the top. On the whiteboard behind Maddow’s desk is a running, if haphazardly diagrammed, list of the stories she’s thinking about, with the most important circled in blue marker. Perpetual favorites like Flynn and Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort hold a prominent place. Another name floating in its own blue circle: Viktor Medvedchuk, “a superclose-to-Putin oligarch” whose name recently turned up in intercepts for having had contact with the Trump campaign. “But we haven’t talked about the fact that he was [also] one of the first individuals sanctioned by the U.S. government after the Crimea thing,” says Maddow. “And so what is that guy doing talking to the Trump campaign during the campaign when he is one of the sanctioned individuals?”

Maddow goes on like this, describing the other stories she finds fascinating, or more specifically, pinpointing the most under-reported, yet possibly important, facet of the stories that interest her, and then drilling down, which can be riveting, as well as exhausting. But that’s just how Maddow’s brain works. “What’s remarkable about Rachel is that she actually is that brilliant,” says her senior producer Laura Conaway, who has worked for Maddow since 2009. “The thing about this show is it starts with digesting an enormous amount of information every day, and then basically throwing it all out and saying, ‘OK, that’s what everybody already knows.’ It requires attention, and Rachel is supremely gifted at paying attention.”

Maddow’s friend and fellow MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who considers her a mentor, compares her to LeBron James. “No one can do what she does,” he says. “She is a master of the medium in a way that is just unparalleled – she can figure out how to tell a story and do things she cares about in ways that grab people’s attention, without just going to where the attention is. And she does that every night. To produce what she produces every day is kind of incomprehensible to me, actually.”

Maddow came to journalism almost by accident. Raised east of San Francisco in suburban Castro Valley, she learned to read using the newspaper – her parents, an attorney and a school administrator, have said she was reading before kindergarten – but grew up in the Bay Area as more of a participant than an observer, playing high school sports and, by her teens, becoming heavily involved in AIDS activism. At Stanford, where Maddow enrolled in 1990, she studied public policy, and then went on to earn her doctorate in politics at the University of Oxford in England. After returning from England in 1998, Maddow moved to western Massachusetts to work on her dissertation, crashing with friends and working any odd job she could find: bucket washer at a local coffee-roasting factory, delivery girl, yard worker, minimum-wage news reader at the local Holyoke radio station. The station held a contest to find a new sidekick for the host of its morning show. Maddow, who’d never worked in media, entered and won. “I stumbled into that job, but it just really clicked,” Maddow says. “I liked being in charge of the news. I found I really liked explaining things.”

TRMS is nothing if not a lengthy explanation of the news that Maddow is most interested in, particularly the opening segment, or “A Block,” which she usually writes herself, sometimes with help from Conaway or other producers. The show’s format of deep-dive analysis and investigative reporting is not easy to produce, and a typical day can last anywhere from 12 to 14 hours. Maddow, who lives with her longtime partner, photographer Susan Mikula, in western Massachusetts, maintains an apartment in Manhattan where she lives during the week, making the three-hour-plus drive back and forth to Massachusetts every weekend. Her workday begins at around 11 a.m., when she arrives at her office, reads through every bit of news she can get her hands on, and then spends a few hours researching or reporting what interests her the most. At around 2 p.m., Maddow convenes her staff in the newsroom to plan the evening’s show, though, given the volatility of the current news cycle, what seems relevant at 3 p.m. might be sidelined by six.

One afternoon, I sit in on a production meeting with Maddow and about 20 staffers. The news of the day pertains to the president’s latest pre-dawn tweet storm, in which Trump mused about canceling White House press briefings, and later hinted that he “might” have secretly recorded his meetings with Comey. Maddow, wearing a brown hoodie, stands in front of a large whiteboard, marker in hand, studying a long list of potential story ideas. She considers the taping issue, which White House spokesman Sean Spicer refuses to comment on: “If Trump says there are tapes and there actually is a taping system, then it’s relevant that Spicer has no comment.” She looks at her staff. “Who thinks he has a taping system?” Everyone raises a hand.

Why Trump would admit to this is puzzling. Quite possibly, he’s just being Trump; on the other hand, as Maddow points out, with the potential obstruction-of-justice issues that secretly taping your FBI director might raise, his comments are worrisome. “It does seem like the president is melting down, like there’s something . . . degenerating in his statements,” she says. “But it’s not our business.”

“When is it our business?” asks Maddow’s executive producer, Cory Gnazzo.

“When they invoke the 25th Amendment,” says Conaway.

A short debate ensues over when, if ever, the show could broach the president’s mental fitness. Maddow quickly dis-misses it. “Trump has mastered the political media by causing you to lose focus and then re-center on whatever it is he’s just said,” she tells me later. “But I’m not interested in what the president has to say.”

What’s your rule about how to cover this administration? We have a mantra when it comes to this administration: “Don’t pay attention to what they say, focus on what they do.” And that is very helpful, because it’s easier to cover a fast-moving story when you’re not distracted by whatever the White House denials are. It’s fascinating that H.R. McMaster and Dina Powell and Rex Tillerson, these very impressive people, all came out and denied that the president gave the Russians secret intelligence in the Oval Office. But, then, the next morning the president was like, “Yeah, I did tell the Russians!” So that’s a sign to not get too hung up on what the White House is saying at any moment, because even their most credible people are being put forward to lie, bluntly, regularly . . . and it’s OK!

Do you marvel at the degree to which the administration just blatantly lies? I think it’s more helpful to take that information, the fact that the White House is putting out nonfactual information on a regular basis, and internalize it. What it means is there is a whole area of information coming from “White House sources” that has no meaningful impact on what I understand to be true about the world. For me, that’s helpful in an organizational way.

How do you decide what to cover? First, you need to be able to synthesize a lot of information, and then exclude from your field of consideration the stuff that isn’t important so you can find the salient, new thing. And that is very rarely something overt.

Let’s talk about the Russia story. You got on that very early, and stuck with it. Well, I mean, I’m not keeping it alive for its own sake. There’s a lot of scandal associated with this new administration. Some of it is like normal political scandal – like Tom Price trading health stocks while he was in a public position to regulate those stocks. That’s a bad scandal, but it’s kind of normal political corruption. It’s almost quaint. Then, there are Trump-specific scandals, like we now have a ruling family where there’s a crowned prince who’s an adviser without remit, and we’ve got unqualified nepotistic appointments and conflicts of interest and Trump not disclosing his taxes. And then there is this third scandal, which is about the existence of this presidency. That’s an existential scandal. If this presidency is knowingly the product of a foreign-intelligence operation, that’s not Tom Price trading stocks that he was also affecting the price of as a public official, you know? That is a full-stop national crisis. Does that mean Russia makes the air every day, even if nothing appears new? No. But when there is something to say about it, I’m going to report it insistently. And I’m willing to do that even if it bothers people.

Do you care if you have haters? Sean Hannity called you one of the “worst examples” of the “propaganda press.” Sean Hannity said that? That’s nice. I don’t play requests. I get to decide what we cover. From the very beginning, I’ve had a deal with MSNBC that they don’t tell me what to cover, what not to cover or how to cover what I cover. I’m not trying to make people happy. I’m trying to do an excellent job telling the stories that I think are important. That’s all I can do.

Does it matter to you to be first on a story? No. I want to matter. When something important is happening, I want people to feel like they should come to me. Sometimes news will break during our hour, and whether or not we’re first, we’ve got to absorb it, figure out that it’s important, fact-check it, turn it around, present it to the viewers, and we nail it, and that can be a real source of pride.

Do you think it’s possible the Trump campaign had no knowledge of the Russian hacking? I absolutely believe it’s possible. I mean, Russia clearly did this attack, and there’s lots of circumstantial evidence that points at lots of unexplained and surreptitious contact between Trump people and Russian people at the time that was happening. But circumstantial evidence is circumstantial evidence. This is a serious thing that needs to be chased down to the end.

It’s hard to chase Trump down – he’s like an escaped electron. Exactly – irradiating everything he bumps into. That’s a pretty good analogy.

How did you manage the shock of election night? It’s funny – if you look at right-wing social media there’s this whole thing about how I had a meltdown on election night and cried. And they found tape of me talking about a totally unrelated story months earlier and said that that was me on election night. But I was actually pretty calm that night, and the reason I was pretty calm is because there’s a lot to do. I’m not a good ad-libber, and anchoring election night is five, six, seven, eight hours of ad-libbing, which for me is like juggling seven tennis balls while merging onto the freeway at night in the rain with no wipers and no lights. So, no, I had no feelings on election night.

What about the morning after? I had the same shock as everybody, but we had to get back on the air. And that’s a very constructive place to be, because my job is to explain what’s going on, what’s important and whether there are factual and historically analogous things that might help you connect and understand the import of what’s happening. If I’m waylaid by being upset or angry, that doesn’t help me explain what’s happening.

Do you have to work hard to contain those emotions? I’m not having an emotional reaction to the news. I’m really not. It’s like if you’re a surgeon who’s removing brain tumors. While you’re doing the surgery, do you feel sad for the person having gotten the tumor? No, you’re working on taking care of the tumor and fixing it.

Because tumors can be deadly if you don’t get rid of them, which is not unlike how some people see the state of our country right now. . .  People feel overwhelmed when they feel like they can’t do anything about it. I can do something about it! While we’re having this incredibly scandalous presidency, and the result of this foreign attack that had this big effect on our country, I get to come to work every day and make sense of it and explain it and find out new information about it, and put that out in the world. I feel like I’m doing work that’s needed. That feels good.

How collaborative is your process? It takes a village. I mean, there are individual segments, and particularly A Blocks, that I will just go into the silo and produce on my own, but you can’t do that for the whole show. You can’t write 8,000 words a day on your own. There are definitely segments that are almost wholly born from producers, and I really count on them.

Do you see yourself as the captain of the ship? Oh, I’m not a captain – I mean, if I was a parent, the children would starve, you know? Like, I can’t really deal with hirings and firings and vacations and birthdays and keeping people happy. I’m blessed with producers who are really good with humans. . . . I’m not great at that. I focus entirely on editorial content.

Do you ever find it frustrating that Trump’s supporters just don’t seem to care about any of these scandals? I don’t think much about how the news is received, or whether or not it is moving people. The news is the news, whether or not people are feeling it. The scandals of the Trump administration, I’d argue, are the most serious scandals that any president has ever faced, not even just since Nixon.

In the early days of Watergate, about half the country didn’t pay much attention – it was only when people started going to jail that it resonated. If the Trump scandals prove to be as bad as they might be and what the FBI is investigating turns out to be worst-case scenario – guilty, did it – then I think the American people as a whole will respond to that appropriately, by recognizing this as an unprecedented, and remarkably successful, foreign attack on the foundations of our country. Will there be outliers? Yes. But I think, in general, if this thing proves out – and it might not – the country will react the way you would hope we would.

That is a very optimistic way to look at the seemingly intractable partisan divisions in our country. The American people are more patriotic than partisan when it gets to the end of the day. It’s true that we’re tribal and partisan and petty and all of those things, but there is also a pride and awareness of what it means to be the kind of country we are, which is unlike any other country on Earth, and I think that will bear out.

I was surprised to hear you don’t see yourself as partisan when a lot of people would disagree. How do you defend that? Oh, I’m a liberal for sure. I’m just not a candidate person. And I’m not a huge fan of the Democratic Party. I’m also less interested in the Democratic Party as a topic – the Republican Party is more fascinating to me.

What about the Republican Party fascinates you? I’m like a sociological student of the Republican Party – even absent Trump. There is a robust, well-funded, decades-old, superorganized, focused, competent conservative movement that exists outside the Republican Party that yanks the party’s chain whenever they want to. The Republican Party is like an old burned-out husk of a Ford Pinto that blew up ’cause its gas tank was in the wrong place, but it’s attached to a giant jet engine. The Democratic Party is like a Honda Civic. It putters through the world in a predictable way, and you like it or not depending on if you find small, unpowerful things cute. But the Republican Party has this incredible propulsion and no way to steer it.

You had a collegial relationship with Roger Ailes, who helped create this toxic political environment we’re in. What made you seek him out? I wasn’t seeking help from him on how to “create a toxic political environment,” I was looking for help on my camera angles! But I don’t want to talk about the technical advice he gave me, because I consider it to be both a gift and also proprietary – like, I use it, I don’t want anybody else to use it. It was a nice thing that he did for me, and it’s been very valuable – it helped me get an advantage over my competitors.

Was it hard for you to reconcile the Ailes you knew with the Ailes who was accused of serial sexual harassment? It was just never my experience of him. I knew him in a very specific context. I’ve never been in his office. I’ve never seen him interact with his staff. I only ever saw him in public. We’d meet and have breakfast. I’m horrified by the allegations against him, and I am appreciative of how serious Fox must have found them to be in order to fire him. But I didn’t know anything about it. I was never in touch with Roger after those allegations became public.

Did you ever try? It’s funny, the last time that we had any communication was within 48 hours of that story breaking with the allegations. I’d sent him a note saying that I wanted to see him. Nothing urgent, just let’s put a date on the calendar. After the story broke, I remember thinking, “I wonder if he’ll ask me to vouch for him or something.” But I never heard from him again.

Your not having any idea is a bit hard to swallow, when there were stories for years about how he dealt with women. Unless he treated you more like a guy? Yeah, I’m not that female. I’ve been an out lesbian since I was a teenager. I look like a dude. I’m totally comfortable with that. I am not trying to be on TV because I like the way I look on TV or because I love the glamour.

Though I vaguely remember seeing you on Tucker Carlson’s show with longer hair and a pink jacket. That wasn’t me, dude. That was them. When I first started at MSNBC, they had this poor person whose job it was to dress the talent, and she tried to turn me into a person who looks the way they’re supposed to look on television. Can you imagine?

Still, I’m curious if being a woman in this business resonates for you. Look, this business is very, very, very male. It’s great that one outcome of the Fox turmoil is that they’ve apparently got a woman who’s taken [some part of] Bill Shine’s job – the top executive job there. You don’t see that here. You don’t see that at CNN.

Why do you think some Americans hate and distrust the media so much? It’s a convenient foil. I don’t really care. I am a cheerleader for the American media and I feel like the free press is going to be what saves us from the political crisis that we are in. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing.

What do you think we could do better? I think the media needs to be protective in terms of its business model. There needs to be a remunerative vocation, which is called reporter, which is called editor, which is called publisher…. We need to do what we can to make sure that we defend people that are attacked for doing that work, and [also] that there are journalism jobs that pay above minimum wage so we get good people doing this work.

Amen. Right? I mean, news doesn’t just happen – people need to appreciate that news comes from people digging it up and that journalism is a noble thing, and we’ve got to cheer for it when it succeeds.

A lot of people criticized the way you reported on Trump’s tax return [summary pages of which were first uncovered by David Cay Johnston of]. Do you think that’s fair? I had two pages of Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2005. For me, it was very important that I made sure they were real and I wasn’t getting punked, and then that I put them out there in the world in a way that I felt explained their importance. That’s what I do with the news every day. I find something, figure out if it’s true, figure out what I think is important about it and then explain what I think is important about it. And I try to be accurate and insightful.

But what people latched onto was that it was promoted on Twitter in a way that led people to believe it was going to be a bigger deal than it was. There were two tweets. I can’t even quote it directly, but it’s like, “Breaking: We have Trump tax returns. Seriously.” Then I followed that up with, “We have the 1040 form from 2005.” And then I got on the air and said, “We’ve got these two pages. This is the 1040 form from 2005. This is how we got them. This is why we believe they are real. I’ve got the reporter here who got them and here’s why it’s important that the first-ever known authenticated Donald Trump federal tax returns are now in the public domain.”

Do you feel like you oversold it, though? I felt like I did exactly what I wanted to do. You can’t really do any worthwhile work if you’re hoping for a specific response from people. This is what I do and some people like it and some people don’t, and some days you’re up and some days you’re down in terms of whether people think you’re a good person or a bad person.

Are you generally happy with your performance? Oh, I’m rarely satisfied – I mostly would grade myself below a C for any particular show, as our average.

Below a C? Well, I mean, we have technical failures. Sometimes we have boring guests. Sometimes I do a lousy job in an interview. Just sloppiness, in writing, bad editing, typos sometimes screw shit up. But occasionally, we do shows that I think are really good – I’m not blind to when we do a good job.

What’s your metric for doing a good job? Whether I got it right and whether or not I’ve advanced the story. And every once in a while you see your influence in the world. You see people grasp a story that you’ve broken or a point that you have been able to introduce into the dialogue around something. But again, you can’t aim at it. All you can try to do is get the work right.

What would you say is your biggest deficit on TV? I don’t think I’m a very good interviewer. In general, that’s not my skill. Sometimes we’ve brought on a person because they really have a thing to add, and then I just don’t ask them the thing that elucidates the thing that we brought them on the air for. That makes me crazy.

Who do you see as a great interviewer? You know who I think is amazing? Chris Matthews. And I know that sounds weird, because he’s famous for interrupting people. But he interrupts people because he’s listening so hard to them. He knows where people are going and he jumps in to get more out of them. The times I’ve seen Chris interview Trump were the most illuminating interviews with him I’ve ever seen, because he was able to draw more stuff out of Trump than anyone else.

I don’t see you as someone who is even interested in that method – people come on your show to have a conversation. Right! I have a tacit contract with my viewers that if I invite somebody onto my show it’s because I believe they have something you ought to hear. But that genteel kind of kid-glove handling of my guests isn’t as extractive as it could be. I’m glad there are a lot of different types of people who do this job. The way I do it is not for everybody.

Have you found the whole fake-news and “alternative facts” stuff to be a distraction? I mean, who cares? It’s like sticks and stones. I am interested in the president denigrating the press – and the judiciary and the intelligence community and law enforcement – because that is important in terms of his behavior as an increasingly authoritarian-style leader, the type of which we have never had before at this level of American politics, period. I am not interested in it because it offends me. When speech becomes behavior, then it is relevant. I don’t watch the press briefing. I don’t read the president’s tweets. In general, “The president has tweeted X” is an overblown story.

What was the thing that surprised you most about working in TV? Just how much smoke-blowing there is – a lot of people saying, “Wow! That was so awesome,” when you’re like, “Are you sure?”

You also get a lot of people who believe that they’re great, when they kind of suck. I’m always aware of all the ways that failure can creep into everything I’m doing. I’m constantly battling in order to achieve something that I’m not embarrassed by, which people think is self-deprecating, but it’s fucking motivating.

And also tiring? It’s really tiring. I have the best staff in news, but it’s hard to keep people for the long haul. Our work tempo is so exhausting. It’s just hard.

Can you ever unplug? I threw my back out, so I unplug less than I used to. There are three things I do to stay sane: I exercise, I sleep – I’m a good sleeper – and I fish. I cannot do any of those things with this back injury.

Even fishing? I mean, like, I can – I went out last weekend with a friend of mine who blew out her knee the day after I hurt my back. Usually, we’re, like, out there in the river and rappelling down gorges and doing crazy stuff. Now, there’s the two of us in folding chairs, fishing for shad in the Connecticut River. It was so sad.

Aside from your passion for fishing, is there a side to you that we don’t see on TV? What do you think?

I think you’re essentially a private person who prefers to reveal a part of yourself. Yeah. I’m not pretending to be somebody that I’m not on television. But there’s a slice of me that I put on television.

How big of a slice? Do any of us know the extent of who we are?

Onscreen, you seem pretty authentic. I try to at least give some cue that I’m giving you my own personal take on this now. But I don’t yell. I’m not gonna pound the table and wave my fist in the air. That’s not going to help.

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Woody Allen Makes  Appearance At Diane Keaton AFI Event

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The Oscar-winning director surprised the crowd when he emerged onstage to introduce the woman of the evening to a standing ovation.

Woody Allen was greeted with a standing ovation as he made a surprise appearance tonight to present his old friend and costar Diane Keaton with the 45th annual AFI Life Achievement award.

Allen, in a rare visit to Hollywood, appeared at the end of the evening to celebrate Keaton, who won her best-actress Oscar for her starring role as the blithe title character in 1977’s Annie Hall. “We go back a long way, Diane and I,” Allen began before launching into a comedic monologue.

Jokingly likening the young Keaton to the fictional character Eve Harrington in All About Eve, he joked that he didn’t mean to suggest that she was “ruthlessly ambitious,” but that when she meant to refer to him as a talented young director she made a Freudian slip and “instead she called me a stepping stone.”

He recalled how he was fascinated when he first met Keaton because she came from right-wing Orange County, having grown up in a town where “if you helped a blind person across the street, they accused you of Socialism.”

Continuing to draw laughs from the audience, and especially from Keaton who sat at the main dais, Allen observed, “Her beauty is not conventional — by conventional I mean pleasing to the eye.”

The two met when Keaton, an aspiring actor from California living in New York, auditioned for and won the female lead in Allen’s 1969 play Play It Again, Sam, and then went on to make the movie version together. In a video interview earlier in the evening, Keaton testified that the eight films they made together were “fun to do because I played idiots,” but she also praised Allen for “writing for women better than anyone. His female roles are extraordinary.”

An apologetic New Yorker, who’s often expressed disdain for Los Angeles — in Annie Hall, he famously cracked, “I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light” — Allen has to be seriously motivated to venture to the West Coast. He appeared at the 2002 Oscars, for example, only because he was asked to introduce a tribute to New York City in the wake of 9/11.

But, clearly, his professional and personal relationship with Keaton exerted a strong draw, for he concluded his remarks by becoming serious for a moment, saying, “From the minute I met her, she was a great, great inspiration to me. Much of what I have accomplished in my life I owe for sure to her.”

Making her way to the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Keaton embraced Allen and turning to the microphone, said, “Oh, God, I just want to cry.” She added, “Tonight has been an astonishing experience for me.” So, instead of launching into a speech, she instead chose to sing an a capella version of “Seems Like Old Times,” the song she memorably sang in Annie Hall.

As the 45th recipient of the honor, presented annually by the American Film Institute, Keaton, 71, became the ninth woman to be singled out, following in the footsteps of Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda. And Streep and Fonda were both on hand to welcome her to the club.

They both chose to pay homage to Keaton’s idiosyncratic sense of style — for the occasion, Keaton herself wore a black-belted white coatdress along with one of her signature oversized hats.

Appearing in black blazer, skinny pants and black-and-white striped tie, Streep observed, “Diane Keaton, arguably one of the most covered-up persons in the history of clothes, is also a transparent woman, even though she is famously the only member of the original cast of Hair on Broadway who would not take off her clothes at the end of the show.” As for Keaton’s winning performance in Annie Hall, Streep added, “She had the stream of consciousness of a hummingbird.”

Dressed in an all-white pants suit, Fonda said, “She absolutely owns the color white. So tonight, in her honor, I’m wearing white. It’s not just the color of Donald Trump’s cabinet. It’s a special white, suffragette white. Women wear white as a symbol of strength.”

And that wasn’t the evening’s only Trump reference. A clip from The First Wives Club got some of the biggest laughs of the night when Ivana Trump, in a cameo appearance, popped up and advised the first wives played by Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler, “Don’t get mad! Get everything!”

Among those offering praise for the mutli-talented Keaton as an actress, director, photographer, home designer and philanthropist, Sarah Silverman noted, “She’s one of the few women in Hollywood who has always been defined by her work and her character and not the men she’s been associated with — and by the way those men are nothing to sneeze at.

A number of those men whom Keaton was involved with both on-screen and off acknowledged the enduring friendships they forged with her. In addition to Allen, both her Godfather costar Al Pacino and her Reds director and costar Warren Beatty visited the podium.

Pacino recalled how Keaton once advised him, as he was headed off to an interview, “Whatever you do, don’t say you’re an artist!” But he turned the tables on her by offering a heartfelt, “Forgive me — you’re an artist, Diane. You’re a great artist.”

Acknowledged Beatty of their work together on Reds, “You were completely indispensable in bringing to life a movie about the challenges that a couple of young, left-wing revolutionaries faced in that eternal conflict between art and politics. You made the movie work.” He went on to say, “I want to thank you for your artistry, I want to thank you for your inspiration, and I want to thank you for your friendship.”

Steve Martin and Martin Short, who became friends with Keaton on the 1991 film version of Father of the Bride, amid a lot of comic ribbing, also joined in the praise.

In many ways, though, the tone of the night was set by the younger women who cited Keaton as a role model. Reese Witherspoon, who as a 15-year-old auditioned for the 1991 TV movie Wildflower that Keaton directed, Rachel McAdams, who appeared alongside Keaton in The Family Stone, Lisa Kudrow, who was directed by Keaton in Hanging Up (and who also delivered the best Diane Keaton impersonation of the night), and Emma Stone all thanked Keaton for the example she’s set for them.

The tribute, which will air on TNT on June 15 and then on Turner Classic Movies on July 31, began with AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale noting that the AFI is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its creation in a White House rose garden ceremony by President Lyndon Johnson. “The AFI has stood the test of time,” he said, as he welcomed to the stage AFI founding director George Stevens, Jr. and founding vice chairman Sidney Poitier.

As he briefly recounted the AFI’s history, Gazzale gave a special shout-out to the AFI’s latest success story, AFI Conservatory alumna and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who received a big round of applause. The AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Award, recognizing another of the school’s grads, was presented to cinematographer Frederick Elmes.

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Rick Moranis And Dave Thomas To Reunite As The McKenzie Brothers

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The pair, who played beer-loving Canadian bumpkins in an imaginary talk show, will perform at a benefit concert next month alongside Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd and Eugene Levy.

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, who played SCTV‘s and SNL‘s beer-loving McKenzie brothers during the 1980s, are reuniting for a July 18 benefit concert in Toronto.

Other Canadian comedy legends on The Second City concert bill include Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd and SCTV alums Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Martin Short and Joe Flaherty, along with the Kids in the Hall cast, including Scott Thompson.

Paul Shaffer, Dave Letterman’s former bandleader who worked with Levy, Short, Thomas and Andrea Martin in the 1972 Toronto production of Godspell, will also appear onstage in Toronto. Moranis and Thomas are set to reprise their roles as the Canadian bumpkins Bob and Doug McKenzie on an imaginary talk show, Great White North.

Their act, which was launched to mock government mandated Canadian TV content rules, was spun off into the 1983 cult comedy Strange Brew, and that year also made the late-night transition stateside to Saturday Night Live.

Short, who will host the concert, will also appear in a special guest interview with Jiminy Glick.

The proceeds of the benefit will go toward caring for Jake Thomas, Dave Thomas’ nephew, who suffered a spinal cord injury while snowmobiling in Jan. 2017 that has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Presented by E.Cowan

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Steven Van Zandt Talks

Categories: Top Stories

In the early days of the Reagan administration, Steve Van Zandt started writing a doo-wop song called “The City Weeps Tonight.” The goal was total authenticity, something that “could have been by the Students or the Jive Five,” and he was getting pretty close, until he got stuck on the final verse. As Van Zandt threw himself into the improbable arc of the next 36 years of his life – leaving the E Street Band to launch an activism-fueled solo career; helping to establish a pivotal cultural boycott of South Africa with “Sun City”; then falling into a post-Eighties showbiz limbo that consisted mostly of walking his dog, only to find himself, all at once, starring on The Sopranos, touring the world again with Bruce Springsteen, and becoming the world’s leading and only garage-rock evangelist – that song somehow never left his mind.

“Every couple of years,” he says, “I’d see if I could finish that last verse. I’m not kiddin’. I’d have pages and pages of words. … ‘Not yet, that’s not quite it.’ ” He laughs, offsetting the heavy-lidded sternness of a default expression you might call Resting Silvio Face. (“Steven is a kindhearted guy,” says his longtime collaborator Southside Johnny Lyon, “but he can be very intimidating, because he’s so focused.”)

Van Zandt is, for the first time in many years, focused on his lapsed solo career. In October, Van Zandt was fresh from a yearlong E Street Band tour when a friend persuaded him to play a show of his songs in London, where he had to win over an audience filled with as many “curiosity-seekers” as fans. “It was a revelation,” says Van Zandt. “The stuff held up so well. It was nice to feel that, the strength of those songs.”

Thanks in part to his proximity to Springsteen and his habit of giving away some of his best songs to other artists (Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds and, recently, Darlene Love), Van Zandt is among the most underrated songwriters of the rock era, and it’s hard not to think that even Van Zandt had started to undervalue his work. “He really is a great writer,” says Jackson Browne, who recorded and frequently performed Van Zandt’s protest song “I Am a Patriot” (also a favorite of Eddie Vedder’s), and credits him with inspiring the political bent of his own Eighties work. Browne notes that Van Zandt’s second album, Voice of America, was “more recognizably political than Born in the U.S.A.,” released a month later. “And Little Steven’s songs could not be misunderstood. It really was a huge influence on me, and Bruce became more and more political from that point on.”

At the moment, Van Zandt is in a rehearsal studio on the Far West Side of Manhattan, preparing for an upcoming Asbury Park show with a new incarnation of his backing band, the Disciples of Soul – this one 15 musicians strong, barely fitting in the room, not to mention forming a substantial collective payroll. “Still strugglin’ to achieve my lifelong goal of breaking even,” he half-jokes. (He’s particularly excited about having recruited former Youngbloods keyboardist Lowell “Banana” Levinger, charmingly assuming he’s a household name: “Did you see Banana?”)

In the past few months, that missing verse to the doo-wop song at last came to Van Zandt (“You told me you’d pray for me,” it begins, capturing the Fifties innocence he’d sought), just in time for him to record the song for Soulfire, his first solo album in 18 years. “The City Weeps Tonight” isn’t the only genre exercise on Soulfire, which is largely drawn from songs Van Zandt wrote for other artists over the years. Most prominently, there’s the first real song he ever wrote, the dead-on Drifters homage “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” which he used to introduce as an actual Drifters song in early performances. “We always have to establish our identity in some original way,” he says. “But just as challenging, or just below it, is a real genre song that holds up in that genre. I’m always proud when that happens.”

But Van Zandt has come to realize that he does have a genre all his own, a brand of soul rock once known as the Jersey Shore sound. He helped create the style – where Stax-Volt horn-section blasts collide with power chords and Motown hooks – as songwriter, producer and guitarist for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, a role he mostly maintained in the studio for a few years even after joining the E Street Band. The sound – which also creeps in and out of Springsteen’s own records – reached its apotheosis on Southside’s 1978 classic, Hearts of Stone, and on Van Zandt’s own debut, 1982’s Men Without Women. He and Springsteen both took stylistic cues from Jersey shows by Sam and Dave, of “Soul Man” fame. “I said, ‘Aha! Me and Southside will be the white Sam and Dave,’ ” says Van Zandt. “The great thing about rock & roll, in terms of identity, was it’s white guys trying to be black. And failing gloriously, right? So we took the Sam and Dave thing, but I wanted to keep the rock-guitar part of it.”

But aside from helming Southside’s 1991 comeback, Better Days, Van Zandt had mostly put that style aside, veering between various sounds – reggae, Eighties synth anthems, hard rock – on his solo albums. “I didn’t worry about consistency,” he says. “Of course, if I was someone’s manager or producer, I would never allow them to do that. That’s career suicide before it starts. You can’t have five different identities musically, OK?”

Soulfire is Van Zandt’s first album since Men Without Women to embrace his signature style. “I was thinking, ‘Who do I want to be?’ ” he says. “I’m like, ‘Who am I really?’ And the thing most identified with me, and the thing that is most unique, is that soul-meets-rock thing. So I went back to that.”

Van Zandt started his career as a frontman, covering the likes of Paul Revere and the Raiders with his high school band, the Shadows, in Middletown, New Jersey, just a bit to the east of Springsteen’s Freehold. He never had the prettiest voice in the world, but he’s a compelling vocalist: “The emotional commitment carries you along,” says Southside, always the best pure singer on the Shore scene. In a high school of 3,000 students, Van Zandt was, as he tells it, the only kid with long hair. He got thrown out of the school and his own house for it, though he eventually made his way back to both. “My father was an ex-Marine Goldwater Republican,” he says. “We were the generation gap. It was rough. My identity was an embarrassment to him. He figured ‘You’re just a gay drug-addict criminal,’ you know, whatever the worst thing was in their heads.” Steve actually wasn’t on drugs, at least until “Nazi” local cops planted weed on him and arrested him for it. “After that, I’m like, ‘Well, fuck this! If I’m gonna be punished, might as well smoke dope!’ So I started smoking dope.”

His musical success, he says, “wasn’t out of determination or courage or persistence, it was because I was a complete fuck-up at everything else. That’s true of Bruce too. That’s the one thing we had in common. When chances came, everybody took them. College, military, job, whatever. The only two left standing from New Jersey was me and him. Why? Because we were complete freaks, misfits, outcasts, that’s why! There was no place else where we fit.”

By 1983 or so, Van Zandt didn’t even feel at home in the E Street Band anymore, thanks to now-resolved tensions with Springsteen and manager Jon Landau. (In his autobiography, Springsteen writes about playing the two men off each other to yield creative sparks.) Van Zandt left, pursuing an increasingly political direction: “ ’Does the world really need a bunch of new love songs from a sideman? I don’t think so.’ And I started studying politics.”

He went to South Africa to research a song, and was shaken by the brutalities of apartheid. Van Zandt persuasively argues that the activism that followed, most publicly with the all-star “Sun City” song and album, was a significant factor in the fall of the regime. That said, he couldn’t help wondering if he had erred in leaving Springsteen’s orbit right before the Born in the U.S.A. tour thundered through stadiums. “At some point I just started to feel a little bit stupid,” Van Zandt says, smiling a bit, “when they’re all buying mansions and I’m hiding under a blanket in Soweto. But that’s how life goes, man.”

He’s convinced that labels blackballed him after the fall of apartheid. “They’re looking at me like, ‘Whoa, this guy’s a little bit dangerous,’ and they just disappeared. So I just went out into the desert, man, and just thought about stuff.”

Before they got back together for good in 1999, the E Street Band had a quick trial reunion in ’95 – and Springsteen wrote that Van Zandt more or less invited himself back into the band at that point. Van Zandt has to think hard about that account before he nods. “I think I felt like, ‘Hey, there’s gonna be an E Street Band reunion, I should be there.’ Right? I had as much to do with that success as anybody.” He smiles. “Maybe more. Some things got left out of the book. But I’ll deal with that later.”

Now, he wants to do solo work between every Springsteen tour, along with more acting and a long list of other ideas and projects. “It might be kind of late,” says Van Zandt, who turns 67 this year, “but I’m hoping for a big fourth quarter.”

Presented by E.Cowan

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Billy Bush Breaks His Silence 

Categories: Top Stories

Seven months after the infamous “grab them by the pussy” recording got Bush fired (and nearly toppled Trump’s White House run), the former ‘Today’ host goes public with what happened on that bus, the people who knew about the tape, how he broke the “awful” news to his daughters and now his bold comeback move: “I plan to return to the job that I love.”

Billy Bush was on the tarmac at New York’s JFK International Airport waiting to take off for Los Angeles when his world imploded. It was Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, and an 11-year-old tape of a lewd conversation with Donald Trump — in which the then-Apprentice star could be heard bragging about sexually assaulting women with a chortling Bush egging him on — was leaked to The Washington Post. The tape was supposed to end Trump’s improbable presidential run. Instead, it torpedoed Bush’s job at NBC’s Today, turning the former Access Hollywood host into a late-night punch line and media pariah. “I could not put two thoughts together,” Bush, 45, tells The Hollywood Reporter in an extended interview, his first since the scandal erupted more than seven months ago. “Things were happening way too fast.”

Captive on that airplane for nearly six Wi-Fi-enabled hours, Bush read news reports in disbelief as a real-time train wreck engulfed his career. By the time he arrived in Los Angeles, a horde of paparazzi had materialized at LAX and, later, at his L.A. home, where they remained for more than a week. Ducking out only through a back path, Bush spent the remainder of that October weekend desperately trying to save his job, then just a few months old and already off to a shaky start after a much-criticized interview with embattled Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. Though Today long had been among Bush’s ambitions, his hiring as the co-host of the 9 a.m. hour was somewhat controversial given his lack of hard-news experience and a snarky red carpet presence. Initially, NBC News signaled Bush would return that Monday to apologize on-air. “I would have welcomed addressing the audience,” he says pointedly.

That opportunity never came. Though Bush issued an apology statement, and Trump dismissed his own remarks about grabbing women “by the pussy” as merely “locker room banter,” many enraged viewers vowed never to watch Today again. That rancor could be felt internally, too, with several NBC News staffers, many of them women, incredulous that Bush would be allowed to return so soon — or at all. By Monday, Bush was suspended. Seven days later, on Oct. 17, he was out with a multimillion-dollar severance package and a nondisclosure agreement that prevents him from going into detail about his exit from NBC News. He still has no idea who leaked the tape.

Where has Bush been since then? Engaged in a lot of soul searching, a process that included time walking on fiery coals with spiritual guru Tony Robbins and a stint at a Napa Valley healing retreat. He took up yoga and meditation, he developed a boxing routine and he read books like 10% Happier, written by ABC News anchor and buddy Dan Harris. Bush, the nephew of President George H.W. Bush, also spent more time than he had in years with his family, including daughters Lillie, 12, Mary, 16, and Josie, 18. “It was fun to have his undivided attention,” says his older brother, Jonathan. “There was no rushing off to do this or that.” He’s also stayed in contact with his former Today colleagues; he recently saw Hoda Kotb and her baby and was invited to lunch with Matt Lauer.

What Bush refrained from doing is watching the infamous three-minute tape from 2005. While he long has been aware of its existence and says “plenty of people” at NBC knew about it, too, he claims he has seen it only three times: once, three days before the rest of the world did, and then twice more in preparation for this interview. Each time it left him “totally and completely gutted,” he says, his voice shaky and eyes watery. “Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?’ But I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.”

On the morning of May 17, Bush is in New York, sitting in the living room of his parents’ Upper East Side apartment, which he called home during his brief tenure at Today, when his family had not yet relocated from Los Angeles. Lining a built-in bookcase are family photos: his daughters, a picture from his 1998 wedding to wife Sydney, and one of Bush and his brother as children at a cousin’s wedding (he won’t say which cousin, which leaves a visitor to guess whether it was a former president or a former presidential contender).

Over the next hour and a half, Bush will recount his descent from successful TV host to the bizarre casualty of a presidential campaign scandal. His lawyer and publicist are present, but he is relaxed and open about his failings and fears. He becomes emotional as he talks about disappointing his family, his friends and himself, and animated when he recounts the spiritual awakening that led him to become “a better man,” he says. “I was kind of bopping along, and I don’t know if it was God or what that said, ‘OK, you’ve developed. You’re a pretty good guy. Let’s see how you handle this.’ And ka-boom!” He puts his hands to his face. “It all comes apart.”

His friends and family are quick to suggest Bush got a raw deal. After all, the other guy on the tape is now in the White House. “He got lumped up with Donald Trump, and his last name is Bush, and all of a sudden he got bushwhacked,” says pal Howard Owens, a TV producer and co-CEO of Propagate Content. “And not to say that he didn’t think what came out was terrible and certainly would have been something he would have had to deal with to regain the respect of his audience, but to never get that chance and to go down in a tidal wave of political anger is a tough thing.”

When asked what it was like to rewatch that infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape, Bush says, “Terrible. Awful. It’s deeply embarrassing, and I remember that person.”

Though Bush never utters a disparaging word about his former bosses, Jonathan allows that his brother was perplexed by the way his exit was handled by NBC News executives. “NBC News and [their] crocodile outrage: ‘We are so disappointed with Billy,’ “says Jonathan. “I think Billy was angry, notwithstanding his own devils to reckon with. You build an identity and reputation over 15 years, and you lose it over 15 hours. And you don’t get to be part of it. You don’t get to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute.’ ”

Bush seems to have come to a place of acceptance, however. “I am not grateful for the moment,” he says. “But I’m grateful for what I’ve gotten out of it. I’m grateful that it hit me all the way to my core.” And now, the Manhattan-born broadcaster is ready to get back to work. With Propagate’s Owens and co-CEO Ben Silverman, Bush has been developing a series designed to show audiences a deeper and more empathetic side to him. The trio is light on details but says that pop culture, sports and interviews likely will play a role. And though the project won’t be the right fit for A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc’s portfolio of channels, she suggests she’d have no hesitation about putting Bush back on the air.

“I don’t think anyone deserves to be sidelined in a way that’s vengeful, especially if they’re truly remorseful,” says Dubuc, one of the industry’s highest-ranking female executives and a personal friend of Bush’s. “That action, while not right and a deep-seated reflection of some of the things that are not only wrong in our industry but in our country, doesn’t mean that he’s a bad person and doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.”

An edited transcript of Bush’s conversation with THR follows:

  • ••

You have three daughters. How did you explain all of this to them?

My [then] 15-year-old, Mary, called me from boarding school, and she was in tears: “Dad, Dad, Dad,” and I said, “Everything is going to be fine, Mary. Everything’s going to be OK.” It’s just instinctively what you say to your daughter. And she said, “No, why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.” It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, “I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you.” She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that.

Did you have that conversation with the other two as well?

Yes. The little one is 12, and she has made the decision not to ever watch [the Trump tape]. And my 18-year-old is more of a fighter. She was like, “All right, who do I need to take out?” And my wife, Sydney, knows the environment and the atmosphere I was in at the time, and she knows very well the person she married. She has been very supportive from the very beginning.

How would you describe the past seven and a half months? What have you been doing?

It’s been a roller coaster. If you start from the day everything happened, Friday, Oct. 7, it was just instant shock. Things were happening way too fast, and a media circus developed. I’ve never been the type that the paparazzi would be interested in. So that early part was just chaos. But then things progressed, and when you have a big, traumatic event, you go through stages, and it led to acceptance and understanding. And then I found myself in a place of soul searching. And I developed a commitment to become a better, fuller man.

When that tape was first leaked, how did you think the situation was going to play out?

I thought that we would work through it and we would address people. I put together an apology right away, the one you saw; I told people that I was ashamed and embarrassed. And I was. So in the beginning, I thought, “OK, we’ll go and own up to this moment.” Then I got home, and it started to become apparent that [I] would not be returning [to Today]. It hurt a lot, and I fell apart. But I had to put aside those feelings and get through legal things. I never had a legal team; I had never had a publicist before.

What would you have said if NBC had given you the opportunity to appear on Todaythat Monday?

I would have said, “I am deeply embarrassed. I sit before you every morning, and I have on a different show [Access Hollywood Live] many mornings, and I hope you know the person you’re looking at and have developed an opinion about is [the real me]. You aren’t wrong about that. I am ashamed. Going forward, you can be sure that I will not participate in anything like that. And I will keep my eyes out and do what I can to stop it from happening.”

How frustrating was it for you to not be able to tell your own story when so many other people were?

I’d like to say I didn’t read any of the items, but that’s not the case. I did. Many of them were very hurtful. To be the butt of monologue jokes — that’s all hurtful. Having been in the job as long as I have, I developed a fairly thick skin. My skin is definitely thicker now, and my heart is a little softer underneath it. But I will say I think everybody should have the opportunity to apologize.

“I’ve tried really hard to responsibly address, accept and apologize for a really horrible moment and to work on myself,” says Bush.

You got fired, and the other guy on that tape became president. How does that make you feel?

I will admit the irony is glaring. [Trump] has his process for his participation [in the tape], and I have mine. I had to turn this into a positive. Robin Roberts’ mother has this quote, “Make your mess your message.” And so I have that opportunity. I’ve come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field. The ground isn’t even. Maybe it’s improving, but still it isn’t even. When a woman watches that tape — and this is what really hit me — they may be asking themselves, “Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they’re saying about me? Are they sizing me up?” I can’t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters — Mary, Lillie, Josie — and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.

Take us back to your days at Access Hollywood when this happened. How important was Trump to the show?

It was 2005, the second season of The Apprentice. The first season ended with 44 million viewers watching. It was a bona fide television phenomenon. So he was the biggest star, not just on the network with which Access Hollywood is affiliated but on TV, period. And so I spent a lot of time with Trump. He was my main assignment. He was the core of my job for a period of time there, because if we could get him three times a week in exclusive-type situations, he was always going to say something that was headline-worthy. And Access Hollywood was certainly interested in that. So that was my job, and I did it well. I got access to Trump. And in my job, there’s a lot of downtime, and there are off-camera moments where you have a short period of time to, in a chameleonlike way, connect with people. If it’s Martha Stewart, I would tell her about the new organic garden that I just started growing in my backyard.

And with Trump?

With Donald, there wasn’t much interaction. He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy do I wish this was a golf day. But I always had a nervous energy through these situations because he also decided a lot of times from day to day, moment to moment, who he liked, who was in and who was out, and my job was to remain in. I needed to be in, or maybe I’d be out. So that was the Trump environment. Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. I wish I had said: “Does anyone want water?” or “It looks like it’s gonna rain.” He liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, “Can you believe the ratings on whatever?” I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.

“Judgment day arrived, and it is my own personal hell that judgment day was based solely upon a bad moment 12 years ago,” says Bush.

Had you heard him speak like that about women before?

I don’t recall anything to that degree. But he’s a provocateur. Shocking statements flow like wine from him. And he likes to captivate an audience.

Did Trump know he was being recorded?

I would assume not. I’ve done many interviews with him, and he always knew when the camera was on and when the camera was off because [he] changed. He was very aware of the camera.

Trump chalked it up to “locker room banter.” Is that a fair characterization?

No. I’m in a lot of locker rooms, I am an athlete, and no, that is not the type of conversation that goes on or that I’ve participated in.

So is that seriously how Trump approaches women?

I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian: Does he really do the things that he’s saying or is that his act? And in Donald’s case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I’d like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I’d have called the FBI.

Much like you, Trump released a statement in which he said, “Anyone who knows me knows that those words don’t reflect who I am.” Is that true?

I don’t know who he is. We don’t have a personal relationship and never have.

Did you hear from Trump during or after this all went down?

I did not. I haven’t spoken to Donald since before he announced he was running for president.

How was the tape brought to your attention? There were some reports that you were discussing it in August when you were in Rio de Janeiro covering the Olympics.

I never shared knowledge of the tape with anyone who didn’t already know of its existence. And that was plenty of people.

When did you first watch it?

I heard it for the first time seven and a half months ago, three days before the rest of the world heard it. I was shocked and alarmed and totally and completely gutted. It was awful. And my participation was awful, too. I remember that guy, he was almost sycophantic. It was my first year as co-host of Access Hollywood, and I was an insecure person, a bit of a pleaser, wanting celebrities to like me and fit in. There is an expression, “Meet them where they are for each person.” For Ben Affleck, it’s Boston sports. But I went way too far in my desire to keep this number one star happy.

Did you know it was going out to the world?

I did not know. I just knew of the existence of the tape. I mean, I’d known about the existence of the tape for 11 years. I remember the day.

Did you think that the tape should come out?

I [thought] it would certainly be interesting for people to know because I think a lot of people were making up their minds about [Trump]. So, yes, I understand that people would want to know about it. You never thought to go to your NBC bosses and say, “Hey, there’s a tape you should listen to here”? They did that on their own. I didn’t need to. Enough people knew.

You clearly are remorseful. Do you think Trump regrets it?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

How is the man we see in the White House the same or different from the man you knew?

I don’t know what stark revelations that he’s had. I have to imagine he’s come across some pretty jarring information and realities about the job. I would assume, but I don’t know. He has confidence in abundance, that’s for sure.

Did you vote for him?

You’re asking a journalist the way he voted? I’ve never made politics and prior votes public knowledge. I’m a registered independent, I’ll tell you that.

Would the recovery from the scandal have been easier for you if Trump had lost?

I don’t know. I mean, the tape would have worked. But I’m out of the coulda-shoulda-woulda game; beyond that I wish I had changed the topic on the bus.

Who reached out to you after all of this? Anyone from Today?

A lot of people. From the Today show, Tamron [Hall, his then-co-host on the 9 a.m. hour], Hoda [Kotb] and Kathie Lee [Gifford], Matt [Lauer], Savannah [Guthrie], Al Roker. Everyone from Access Hollywood. I got a wonderful handwritten letter from Suzanne Somers. I got a great letter from Cindy Crawford. Kate Walsh and Julie Bowen reached out. They were all supportive — “We know the real you.”

Did anyone reach out to express their displeasure?

No … but I did have some frank conversations with people who said, “You have to understand the moment and that it was terrible and why people reacted.” My wife said that to me. She said: “It’s not a good moment. You know that?” I said, “I know.” And I’d only listened to [the tape] once at that time. I’ve listened to it three times total in my life.

Have you reached out to Nancy O’Dell, your co-host on Access at the time and about whom the lewd comments were focused?

I recently sent her a communication, yeah. I need to keep that between me and Nancy. [Bush declined to say whether O’Dell responded.]

What did your soul-searching process entail? Your friends mentioned a retreat.

This was my most powerful thing I did. Over the holidays, I said, “I’m just depressed, bloated and miserable. I need to get up and get better.” So it was my brother’s recommendation to go through The Hoffman Process in Napa, California. It’s not glamorous. It was seven days — no phones, no communication. And it’s so overpowering and so draining that you have to sign an agreement that you’ll take two days on your own by yourself before you go back to family or friends. For 13 hours a day, it’s a study on your life and your negative patterns. At one point, you’re on your knees with a baseball bat and a pillow in front of you, and you are literally bashing these negative patterns that you’ve identified in your life. For me, one was judginess. I look back three years ago, doing Access Hollywood Live, and some story would come up, and I’d be like, “Oh, these people, these celebrities, how can they not ba-ba-ba-ba whatever.” So that became the moment of real awakening, and it went on from there. I’ve done everything.

What else?

I spent time with Tony Robbins. I attended his seminar. There was a powerful moment with Tony in front of 9,000 people at the Galen Center [in L.A.]. He walked to the end of the stage, and he pointed at me in the middle of his thing, and he said, “One moment in your life does not define who you are.” And the camera hit me, and these people started applauding — it was a little overwhelming but really empowering. Later that night, we walked on fire together: 12 feet over 2,200-degree coals. And I’ve done a lot of reading. I’m reading a book now called The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I’ve gotten into a lot of meditation and yoga. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful thing.

You’ve spent the past seven and a half months on the sidelines. Are you ready to come back?

In the beginning, your instinct is, “Hey, I need to get back, the train is leaving. I need to …” But that would not have been a good idea. There’s a process that needs to take place because you just can’t come back; it has to have changed you in some way. But I plan to return to the job that I love, which is television, communicating, interviewing people. I have changed in a way that I think will make me better at my job. I believe there will be more people like me in crisis. And with social media, a flame becomes a bonfire quickly. So I will be picking up my pen and writing them and calling them on the phone, and I will pursue these interviews and these moments with these people. And through what I’ve learned and where I’ve been, I will tell them, “You have empathetic ears in me.”

Are those celebrities?

Not just celebrities. One thing I learned at The Hoffman Process is that I’ve always relied on my charm and my quick wit and all that, but I’ve kept my depth in the shadows. And I was heading in that direction in my latest phase of my career [at Today], and I’m going to return to that place because there’s a lot of wisdom to learn from a lot of people. There are a lot of interviews I’d like to conduct, and I’m committed to that. I’m not just going to ride around in a rickshaw through the streets of New York picking up strangers and having funny moments with them. There must be more depth to what I do. I have something in development with Howard and Ben that takes what people know of me to a smarter level and, with the perspective gained in the last seven months, a drive to pursue deeper, more pivotal interviews.

You’re a big sports fan. Is that a world that’s appealing?

Well, [they say] go with what you know. … I always thought I would love to be a golf announcer, but I’m too excitable. I don’t whisper well.

Let’s say Trump sees this interview and he calls you. What would you say to him?

I don’t know. I guess if the president of the United States calls, you take the call. I would listen and say thank you.

Bush on the Access Hollywood tape: “Looking back, I wish I had changed the topic. But I didn’t have the strength of character.”

Would you ask if he was remorseful about the situation?

Conduct a little private interview? No. I’d just say thanks and move on. There is nothing I need from him.

You realize that you interviewing him would probably be the highest-rated interview he’s ever done?

I don’t think I’d interview Trump. It would be a spectacle. In television, we love a spectacle, but I’ve come too far and learned too much. There are others that I’d rather interview, like Emmanuel Macron of France. What a fascinating story he is: a third-party dark-horse candidate who comes in — and might that be a foreshadowing of what happens in America? There’s more wisdom to extract from Oprah, too. It would be fascinating to talk about picking yourself up [after trauma] because there are two types of people in the world: those who have faced something traumatic and those who will. It is inevitable. So I’d talk about getting up, and who knows where that goes? Someday I might address groups and other people about it. Important to it all is owning and accepting your part of it. And I completely have owned and accepted my part in all of this. But I’m not a victim. There are people who are going through things far worse than me.

Do you watch the Today show now?

I’ve been watching very little TV in the morning because I get up and meditate, and then I do yoga. And I’ve been doing some boxing now, too, and it’s interesting; it’s 75 percent women in the gym. But I love it. I’m active and moving.

Some of your friends suggest your last name has made all of this more complicated. Do you agree with that?

I don’t think so. This situation happened because I participated in a terrible moment and it became public. It doesn’t matter what your name is. Anyone who is participating in that moment is going to get it. In that way, I deserved it. Judgment day arrived all of a sudden and very quickly, and it is my own personal hell that judgment day was solely based upon a bad moment 12 years ago and not the complete evolution of the man. But that’s my own private cross to bear and my own issue to work through. It does not in any way excuse the moment on that tape and the way people reacted because I completely understand it.

And it all was exposed while you were on a plane. That must have felt like the longest flight you’ve ever been on.

I kind of wanted it to be longer. (Laughter.)

How Bush used group therapy to stop feeling “bloated and miserable” after his NBC firing.

Bush spent a week in a modest hut on the Northern California campus.

Billy Bush first heard about The Hoffman Process from his older brother, Jonathan, who had participated in a retreat about 10 years ago when he was splitting with his wife. “It’s standard protocol for insecure, divorced men,” laughs Jonathan. But Billy went for a different reason in January, when he admits to feeling “depressed, bloated and miserable” after his NBC firing.

So, what is The Hoffman Process? The self-help regimen was launched in 1967 by Bob Hoffman, a tailor from Oakland, California, who had no formal medical training but became a spiritual guru of sorts after he developed a theory dubbed “Negative Love Syndrome.” It posits that many people are unable to form healthy and lasting relationships due to negative behaviors learned in childhood and through trauma. Today, the nonprofit Hoffman Institute holds weeklong residential retreats on modest grounds in St. Helena, California, and Chester, Connecticut (participants pay about $5,000 for the week and are anonymous; Bush says his group was asked to use only childhood nicknames, though he was recognized). Group therapy is a large component of the retreats, which aid participants in becoming “conscious of and disconnected from negative patterns of thought and behaviors on an emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual level,” according to the institute’s website. The Process has a handful of celebrity fans, including Moonlight’s Naomie Harris and Toms founder Blake Mycoskie. “The Hoffman Process was the beginning of real enlightenment,” says Bush. “I wondered, ‘Were my negative patterns what led to [the Trump tape]?’ Then I think, ‘Maybe not, but do I have them? And while we’re here, let’s get into that because you get [those patterns] from one or both of your parents, and I don’t want to pass it on to my girls.’ ”

Presented by E.Cowan

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