In this new kind of interview show, Randy Cohen talks to guests about a person, a place, and a thing they find meaningful. The result: surprising stories from great talkers. Learn more at http://personplacething.org/
27:31In 1976, Milton Glaser sent him to a Brooklyn disco for New York magazine, to illustrate an article that would become the movie Saturday Night Fever. Jim showed his paintings to editor Clay Felker. “Clay looked at them and he said, ‘Jim, what are you showing me here? I don’t get it. Nothing’s happening.’” But it all worked out. And not just for John Travolta. A conversation about illustrators, editors, and art directors, produced with Poster House.
27:31This young astronomer studied astrophysics and folklore and now researches places in our galaxy where livable planets are most likely to form. She's as rational as the next astrophysicist but acknowledges an early enthusiasm: “I spent way too long, countless hours as a child, trying to move things with my mind, or control fire or the weather.” The making of a scientist.
27:31This composer and guitar player says that joining with people to make social change is like joining with people to make music. “You’re finding people you work well with, who bring something to the table that you don’t.” A conversation about guitar music and transportation policy. Presented by violist Ralph Farris of the quartet Ethel.
27:31This graphic artist, a cofounder of Champions Design—clients include Apple, the NBA, the Girl Scouts—traces his love for design to the baseball cards and comic books of his childhood. “I’ve been surrounded by these little gems all my life.” Produced with the Type Directors Club.
27:31A journalist with expertise in China, Newsweek’s former Beijing bureau chief says, “The struggle between intellectuals and the merchant class continues in China, but at the moment it’s kind of like money trumps everything.” I’m glad I don’t live in a country like that. We defeated our intellectuals long ago. Produced with the China Institute.
27:31An original cast member on Saturday Night Live (Connie Conehead!), she’s now a voice actor—Shrek, Finding Nemo. Her later-in-life pleasure: Coachella, but she won’t attend this year. “I can’t, I can’t, my knees just won’t take it any more.” We talk about phases of life and the inadequate seating at music festivals.
27:31Many people share this writer’s admiration of John James Audubon as a naturalist and an artist, especially his magisterial Birds of America. “But fewer people know about him as a slave owner and a white supremacist,” she says. Birds, beauty, climate change, and racial justice: it’s complicated. And delightfully so. Produced with Orion Magazine.
R. J. Cutler
27:31His first feature-length documentary, The War Room, was Oscar-nominated. He won an Emmy for American High, a TV series. Years earlier he received this professional tip from his mentor, D. A. Pennebaker: “You’re not a director until you wake up screaming in the middle of the night.” Apparently I am a director. As are we all.
Norbert Leo Butz
27:31When he set out to become an actor, this Broadway great—Rent, Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels—was opposed by his conservative Catholic family. But they came around, even his Fox-watching father. “He loved Rent. My homophobic dad would come to Rent, probably once a month.” Tales of reconciliation. And show tunes.
27:31A Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution, she testified at the House impeachment hearings with erudition, integrity, and courage. She got her start as a child dominoes hustler at a miners' pub in the north of England. “My granddad would have me play and bet on me, and every time I won I would get a ginger beer.” The making of a scholar.