Master cinematographer Caleb Deschanel earned the first of six Oscar nominations for The Black Stallion, and the latest just last year for the brilliant German film Never Look Away. Since then he’s ventured into the newest form of storytelling, virtual reality, to shoot The Lion King. But his best stories aren’t about craft—they’re about life lessons he’s learned since attending film school at USC with the likes of George Lucas. Leonard and Jessie sat spellbound as Caleb regaled them with priceless anecdotes: tune in and hear for yourself.
Jessie fell in love with Phil LaMarr during his long run on MADTV, but that’s just one of hundreds of credits on his resume. He’s a charter member of The Black Version, a hilarious show at Los Angeles’s Groundlings Theatre and one of the busiest voice actors around. You’ve heard him on The Family Guy, Futurama, DC Super Hero Girls, Bojack Horseman, and scores of other animated shows and movies. He’s also appeared onscreen in Veep, Get Shorty, and Pulp Fiction, to cite just a few highlights. He has great stories to share, and Leonard and Jessie were especially blown away by his uncanny impressions. Have you ever heard anyone imitate Chris Rock and Don Cheadle?
A born storyteller and natural entrepreneur, Ava DuVernay has achieved many milestones: the first black woman to be named Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival (for Middle of Nowhere), the first to have a feature nominated for Best Picture (Selma), and the first to pilot a big-budget blockbuster, A Wrinkle in Time. She created the hit series Queen Sugar and directed the powerful Netflix miniseries When They See Us. How she found time in her schedule to chat with Leonard and Jessie we’ll never know, but they discovered that aside from her great achievements, Ava is equally happy to talk about her early inspirations and lifelong love of movies.
Most people know Lesley Manville for her Oscar-nominated performance as Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread or her many films for British filmmaker Mike Leigh including Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy and Another Year. She’s also the star of the irresistible TV comedy Mum, which just launched its third and final season on BritBox. Leonard and Jessie are unabashed fans of the show and enjoyed discussing it and Lesley’s wide-ranging career in theater, film and television.
Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.
If you’re like Leonard and Jessie, you’ve been watching Alanna Ubach for years—even if you don’t know her name. She’s currently costarring in Euphoria and still winning praise for her portrayal of the matriarch in Disney’s animated Coco. But that just scratches the surface of this talented actress’s career... from Legally Blonde to Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. The secret of her long term success? She’s never turned down a part! She’s also great fun to talk to.
One of Cleveland’s finest sons, Drew Carey is comedy’s long-distance runner. A former Marine, he burst on the national scene as a contestant on Star Search in 1988 and hasn’t stopped since. The Drew Carey Show enjoyed an extraordinary nine-year run on ABC, matched by the improv hit Whose Line is It Anyway. He’ll soon be starting his twelfth season as the host of The Price is Right. We don’t know how he made time to join us but we’re awfully glad he did. Drew is a great conversationalist, as you’ll hear for yourself.
After more than twenty years onscreen, with an Oscar nomination to his credit (for As Good as It Gets) Greg Kinnear has made his directing debut with a likable film called Phil, which opens in theaters and online this week. Leonard and Jessie ask him what inspired him to move behind the camera, and also touch on highlights of his career—from working opposite Jack Nicholson to playing JFK in a major TV miniseries. He’s got a lot of good movies under his belt, like You’ve Got Mail, Nurse Betty, Auto Focus, and Little Miss Sunshine, to name just a few…and a story to go with each one.
The prolific author behind Game of Thrones is also a lifelong movie buff and invited us to interview him at his very own theater, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. George and Leonard compared notes about starting out as a fan and contributing to fanzines, back in the pre-Internet era. (For more on this, go to www.leonardmaltin.com.) George went on to teach writing and enjoyed success as a novelist before moving to Hollywood, where he spent a decade working in television. Ultimately he returned to his roots as an author, little dreaming that his novels would inspire one of the most elaborate and successful television shows ever produced. George is a great conversationalist and was a gracious host to Leonard and Jessie; you can join them vicariously by listening in.
Helen Slater won the role of Supergirl in 1984 fresh out of New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts. Now she’s playing Melissa Benoist’s mother in the newest incarnation of Supergirl on the CW network. In between she’s had many experiences in and out of show business which she was only too happy to share with Leonard and Jessie (who fell in love with her in The Legend of Billie Jean). Our favorite: a memorable conversation with costar Peter O’Toole.
Alan Tudyk is a gifted actor and a familiar face who achieved cult status as a costar of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and its follow-up feature-film Serenity…but he’s also become the man of a thousand voices. If you’ve seen Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, or even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story you’ve heard his facility with accents, dialects, and the ability to embody colorful characters. He also stars in one of Leonard and Jessie’s favorite unsung movies, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. Alan is only too happy to demonstrate his vocal talents during our hilarious interview. Angelenos can currently see him onstage in Mysterious Circumstances at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.
Tracy Nelson made a deep impression on a youthful audience in the 1980s TV series Square Pegs and is still acting today. She’s also part of show business royalty: her father was Ricky Nelson, her grandparents were Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and her maternal grandparents were football star-turned-sportscaster Tom Harmon and leading lady Elyse Knox. (Yes, that means her cousin is Mark Harmon.) Tracy is proud of her heritage and Leonard and Jessie were only too eager to soak up all that history
Alexander Payne is one of the brightest lights in American filmmaking, a brilliant social satirist and observer with Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska and Downsizing among his credits as director and writer (usually with his longtime collaborator Jim Taylor). He started, as Leonard did, by collecting 8mm prints of silent comedies with Charlie Chaplin, and has never lost his passion for cinema, as you’ll hear in this compelling conversation with Leonard and Jessie.
Jeff Ross is best known as the Roastmaster General, reigning king of insult humor, but there’s much more to this talented comedian. Leonard and Jessie met him in 2005 when he made a terrific documentary called Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie about entertaining our troops in Iraq. Now he’s acting on the new season of Sneaky Pete and using his producing skills—and sense of showmanship—to introduce a new series on Comedy Central called Historical Roasts. He’s a smart guy who has earned every bit of his success. Be aware that this episode includes some raunchy and highly irreverent remarks.
Americans first became aware of Jacki Weaver when she played the matriarch of a crime family in the Aussie import Animal Kingdom in 2010. Her chilling performance earned her an Oscar nomination and “overnight” recognition outside her homeland, where she’s been working on stage, screen and television for decades. She nabbed another Academy Award nomination as Robert De Niro’s wife in Silver Linings Playbook and hasn’t had an idle moment since. Her newest release is POMS with Diane Keaton. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to spend an hour in the company of this bright, spirited woman who’s enjoying life to the fullest.
Had Don Hahn just produced Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King he’d have earned a place in movie history—and our hearts. But over several decades he’s done so much more: writing books (like Before Ever After and Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century), directing documentaries (like Waking Sleeping Beauty) and keeping Disney history alive. Not bad for a guy who started out as a messenger on the Burbank studio lot. Don is self-deprecating and funny but his love for Disney is true-blue, as Leonard and Jessie can attest.
Angie Dickinson has lived an amazing life--and she’s far from done. Knowing and working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and John F. Kennedy is just a starting point for our candid, wide-ranging discussion with the ageless actress. From a beauty pageant winner she worked her way up to leading lady and never missed a beat. Leonard and Jessie sat, wide-eyed, at her well-worn professional poker table for this memorable episode.
Dave Foley is a busy comedic actor and stand-up performer, but even after thirty years is still cherished as one of the Kids in the Hall. That rowdy comedy troupe made a lasting impression, as did Dave’s five-year stint on the much-loved TV series, Newsradio. Our guest has yet another indelible claim to fame as the voice of Flik in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. Leonard and Jessie were delighted to learn that Dave is also a student of comedy, past and present, which allowed all three to geek out together on their favorite topic.
Kevin Brownlow is the superhero of film historians, with an Oscar to prove it. Now you can hear his “origin story.” Fifty years ago his book The Parade’s Gone By offered a vivid portrait of the silent film era and its glories, influencing a generation of movie buffs and scholars (including Leonard). He held Leonard and Jessie spellbound as he recalled his first encounters with this medium and how he tracked down actors and directors who were still alive to tell their stories. Kevin’s own career is the stuff of legend by now, and we’re delighted that he was willing to share some of his amazing adventures with us.
You probably know Kate Flannery as Meredith, the resident drunk who made a lasting impression over nine seasons on The Office, but she’s had the show-business bug all her life. She now tours the country with Jane Lynch, singing her heart out, and keeps her comedy chops honed in an act called The Lampshades. Leonard and Jessie were among the people she waited on at a popular Beverly Hills restaurant where she had the chance to observe good and bad behavior among the Hollywood elite. Kate’s got great stories—and a wonderful laugh.
Paula Poundstone is one of the funniest women on the planet, and a longtime favorite of Leonard’s. She’s heard regularly as a panelist on the popular NPR show Wait…Wait, Don’t Tell Me and now presides over her own very funny podcast quixotically called Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone (co-hosted by Adam Felber). Join us as she expounds on everyday matters, the wide net she casts on her new “comedy field guide to life” and—oh, yes—movies.
Heyyyy… it’s Henry Winkler, the nicest man in show business. He’ll always be remembered as the Fonz but he has a new feather in his cap: an Emmy Award (his first!) for playing Bill Hader’s acting teacher on the delightfully dark HBO comedy series Barry. Henry is also a masterful storyteller and held Leonard and Jessie in rapt attention, recalling early days working with Sylvester Stallone in The Lordz of Flatbush and, more recently, writing a series of popular children’s books about a boy with dyslexia (like Henry) named Hank Zipzer. He has a way of putting people at ease and this hour flies by.
Winnie Holzman and Paul Dooley are an amazing show-business couple. She created the TV series My So-Called Life and wrote the book for the Broadway musical Wicked, just for starters. He’s acted in every medium known to mankind, was a favorite of director Robert Altman, created The Electric Company and is currently playing James Brolin’s “father from Hell” on the TV series Life in Pieces—in his 90th year. They’re wonderful to watch (and listen to) because they love and support each other so beautifully. Leonard and Jessie have been fans for years and are eager to share their infectious good spirits with all of you.
Marc Maron has nothing to prove as a stand-up comic or as a podcaster, but he’s still stretching his wings as an actor. He’s terrific in director Lynn Shelton’s entertaining new movie Sword of Trust, which just debuted at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. That’s where Leonard and Jessie talked to them both before an enthusiastic audience at Esther’s Follies. Lynn explains how she combines scripted material and improvisation. Marc is in top form and that’s about as good as it gets!
Fair warning: you’ll hear more f-bombs than usual in this episode.
Harvey Guillen is about to make waves! He’s one of the stars of What We do in the Shadows, the new FX series based on the hilarious Kiwi movie that debuts this weekend at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Jessie has known Harvey since they were teenagers. She and Leonard have watched with awe as he has built a solid career by a combination of talent and hard work. Hearing his story of starting from scratch as a kid and earning his success is positively inspiring.