David Ritz is one of the most prolific biographers of music industry titans, writing about the lives of artists from BB King to Willie Nelson to Janet Jackson. David tells Marc about his obsessive pursuit of Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin and how chronicling their lives changed his. He also explains why he often enjoys ghost writing for a musician more than writing in his own voice. Plus, David talks with Marc about finding faith through the Blues and writing his own story for a change.
Patty Jenkins’s connection to superheroes runs deep. Long before she became the first woman to direct a major superhero film, Patty was relying on Superman to help her process the loss of her father. Marc talks with Patty about how she was intrigued by the romance of tragedy, as filtered through the type of mythic storytelling depicted in her two Wonder Woman movies. They also talk about her time as a punk rocker, her years working the camera on hip-hop videos, and how the Beatniks are responsible for her entry into the film business.
Sam Tallent felt compelled to write a book about the guy he was afraid to turn into. As a comedian plying his trade on the road, Sam did enough one-nighters and heard enough horror stories from other comics to know there’s a path to ruin while going from club to club. Marc is also familiar with that path, which is why he connected so strongly with Sam’s book, Running the Light. Marc and Sam talk about the book’s fictional (but all-too-real) protagonist Billy Ray Shafer, as well as the actual rogues and borderline criminals they’ve met in their industry. Sam also explains what it was like to bet on himself and publish the book on his own.
Andrew Bird’s music defies categorization, so much so that he’s not even sure how to categorize it himself. Andrew walks Marc through the process by which he developed his sound, from youthful obsessions with classical music and jazz to his days on the road doing Old-Time music in bars to the period of isolation and deprivation he put himself through in order to experience a musical breakthrough. They also talk about his love of whistling, which he did in a recent Muppet movie. Also, Andrew plays a song from his new holiday album Hark!
Bootsy Collins is one of the world’s preeminent practitioners of The Funk, although that might not be the case if he hadn’t snuck his brother’s guitar out of the closet when no one was around. Bootsy tells Marc about starting out with a homemade bass and graduating from the James Brown School of Hard Knocks as part of the Godfather of Soul’s band. Bootsy explains how he came out of that experience and shaped his own identity in the Parliament Funkadelic Universe, thanks to the freedom provided by George Clinton, and how it all ties in to his new album, The Power of the One.
Scott Glenn is convinced that every good thing that’s ever happened to him has been an accident. That includes serving in the Marines, getting his start in acting, meeting his wife, finding religion, gaining Lee Strasberg as a mentor, moving to Idaho, and getting the part in Apocalypse Now that kickstarted his confidence as an actor. Scott tells Marc about the serendipitous circumstances behind those moments in his life, as well as stories from the sets of The Right Stuff, Nashville, Urban Cowboy and Training Day.
The first time Brad Williams got on a stand-up stage, he was just an audience member. Brought up on stage by a comedian who was telling little people jokes, Brad realized the power that comes with making people laugh on his own terms. Marc talks with Brad about what it’s like doing comedy as a little person, how other little people have responded to his act, how he feels about language that’s deemed inappropriate, and why he credits his dad for his ability to tell jokes. They also talk about Brad being a new father and the range of emotions he had about raising a little person.
Zach Braff and Marc both dealt with a lot of loss in the past year. For Zach, keeping it all in perspective is helping him get through the daily stress of pandemic life, as he fires up his creative impulses. Zach and Marc talk about the struggle of saying goodbye to beloved pets, the trauma of losing someone close to you, and managing childhood anxiety later in life. They also discuss Zach’s past projects like Scrubs and Garden State, as well as his new podcast and his upcoming movie with Robert De Niro, The Comeback Trail.
John Densmore was the drummer for one of the most influential bands of the ‘60s, The Doors, but he’s always been on a quest to find truth through art and creativity. John explains to Marc that his love of jazz inspired a lot of the rock and roll he made and his latest book is an attempt to discover the inspirations of other artists. They also talk about how the drug scene spelled the end of the good times in 1960s Los Angeles, why he went to the mat against his bandmates over licensing The Doors music for commercials, and what Jim Morrison is like these days when he appears in John’s dreams.
It may not surprise you that James Caan has been in a few fights. He also played football, boxed and was in rodeo competitions, among other “non-Jewish activities,” as he calls them. James and Marc talk about how he turned his rough and tumble life into an acting career and how the same instincts that served him in competition helped him create memorable performances. They also talk about Robert Duvall, John Wayne, Misery, Thief, The Godfather, and the unexpected person who helped him create Sonny Corelone.