Patti Smith has been at the vanguard of art, poetry, rock and roll, and other forms of self-expression since the 1960s. But this talk with Marc happens to be her very first one-on-one conversation done over Zoom. They talk about Patti’s days living at the Hotel Chelsea, carrying on the legacy of the Beat Generation, and forming life-changing relationships with William Borroughs, Sam Shepard, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan, among others. Patti also recalls the most mortifying live performance moment of her career, which happened for all the world to see.
Everyone needs to let off some steam these days and there are few people better who do it better than Lewis Black. Marc welcomes his old friend back to the show for a talk about pandemic comedy, going stir crazy during quarantine, avoiding cults and pulling for democracy to make it through these times. They also talk about Lewis's new standup special, Thanks for Risking Your Life, which was filmed the day before the country shut down.
Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was in Los Angeles and decided to stop by the garage for a rare pandemic-era in-person chat with Marc. It’s been a long time since Wayne and Marc hung out last. Since then both dealt with deaths of people close to them and they talk about how processing those losses gave them perspective on what we’re all living through. Wayne also talks about being a new dad in his late 50s, how an epiphany while working at Long John Silver’s changed his personal trajectory, and why he considers himself to be on his third life.
Wynton Marsalis created a profound examination of America, race, class, politics and human impulses with his latest epic composition, The Ever Fonky Lowdown. He explains to Marc how his perspective for the piece was largely aided by his fear of flying. Wynton’s worldview was also shaped by watching his dad play jazz to limited audiences, realizing what it meant to play solely because you believe in the music.They also talk about Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock and Wynton’s work with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
John Cusack is always trying to stay engaged with the world. From a young age when activist priests used to visit his parents to the Reagan years when he underwent a political awakening to present day, John uses his perception of how the world works as a way to build the characters he plays. That comes in handy in the new series Utopia, where John plays an evil billionaire. John also tells Marc what it was like to play Brian Wilson while working with Brian Wilson, how Being John Malkovich got made, and why Danny Trejo told the world that out of all the tough guys on the set of Con Air, John was the baddest mother of all.
Barbara Kopple is known for her acclaimed documentary films, but for Marc the most memorable time Barbara spent behind the camera is the day she directed him in a phone commercial. Marc and Barbara reminisce about how that happened and talk about her entry portal into documentaries working with the Maysels Brothers on Salesmen and Gimme Shelter. They also discuss Barbara’s Oscar-winning film Harlan County, USA, how Bruce Springsteen saved one of her early movies, and how she got Jimmy Carter to open up about the Iran hostage crisis for her latest doc, Desert One.
The adage “you can never go home again” didn’t apply to Cecily Strong. She did, and it’s what got her on Saturday Night Live. Cecily tells Marc why she didn’t stick around in Los Angeles after studying acting at CalArts, a move that people told her was a mistake. They also talk about why she got kicked out of her high school, how she battles her depression, what it was like to perform for the Obamas, and why she was in a Chinese opera with Alison Brie.
Barry Levinson finds himself waking up in disbelief to every outlandish and shocking item in the day’s news. It’s a different mode for a filmmaker who spent his career focused on the natural, quiet moments that make up everyday life. Marc and Barry talk about his beginnings at a Washington, DC television station, his early comedy writing that landed him at The Comedy Store, The Carrol Burnett Show, and with Mel Brooks, and his breakout movies like Diner, The Natural and Rain Man. They also contemplate whether American Democracy can survive, which is the subject of the new doc Barry produced, Stars and Strife.
It's a New York City doubleheader! First up, Marc talks with the woman behind the modern day New York anthem, Alicia Keys. On the release of her seventh studio album, Alicia looks back on what it was like to start a huge music career so young and how she had to finally meet her monster in order to come into her own. Then Marc talks to John Leguizamo about his defining one-man shows, his relationship with other New York City artists, and his new movie Critical Thinking, which is the first feature film John directed.
Wendell Pierce isn't doing a lot of acting during the pandemic, but he's keeping busy. He's spending more time with his 95-year-old father in New Orleans, he’s hosting radio shows on a local station he bought, and he's helping to figure out the future of live theater. Wendell and Marc talk about his time on The Wire and the unique way he experienced that show. They also discuss what he learned playing Willy Loman last year and how Led Zeppelin and jazz helped him become a better actor.