The senior film critic for the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang is also a graduate of USC and took Leonard’s class—three times. Leonard takes no credit for Justin’s brilliance as an essayist or as a world-class punster. Jessie has known him her whole life and is also an unabashed fan. Just back from the Sundance Film Festival, Justin made time for us to talk about his career and some of the nuts and bolts of being a daily newspaper’s leading critic.
Our guest this week is now appearing on movie theater screens in The Color Purple, recreating the role of Sofia that she originated in the Broadway revival. But as you’ll hear, that is just her latest achievement in an ever-growing body of work on stage, screen and television. Fans of Orange is the New Black knew her as Taystee, and followers of the recent series Peacemaker could see yet another facet of her boundless talent. A graduate of Juilliard, she is riding high during this awards season but Leonard and Jessie agree that we’ll be watching her in every medium imaginable for years to come.
Sam Wasson has become one of the finest Hollywood historians of our time, and also one of the most productive. His newest book, The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story is not a conventional biography but an insightful analysis of the formidable filmmaker. It joins Sam’s earlier books on Blake Edwards, Paul Mazursky, and the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Chinatown as essential reading. He also coauthored with Jeanine Basinger a hefty new volume called Hollywood: the Oral History. He and Leonard maintain a mutual admiration society and Jessie is its newest recruit.