TV Features

Drew Barrymore Is Getting Her Own Talk Show: 6 of Her Most Memorable Interviews

Drew Barrymore is making the move to the other side of the talk show desk.

Drew Barrymore has been famous since literally before she can remember.

Coming from generations of hard-living actors, it must have seemed inevitable for her to go into the family business, but her first acting role was in a puppy chow commercial when she was just 11 months old. She has said that she got the role after the dog she was performing with bit her on the nose and she laughed.

Through the incredible career that has followed, she has managed to maintain that upbeat attitude through a tremendous amount of ups and downs, which has made her a charming guest on basically every talk show since the 1980s. Now she's preparing to take a seat on the other side of the talk show desk, conducting interviews on her own daytime talk show, where she plans to "spend an hour every day celebrating life."

Keep Reading Show less
TV

Would Conor Oberst Be a Good Late-Night Production Assistant?

The Bright Eyes frontman and his fellow musician, Phoebe Bridgers, appeared in a mockumentary segment called "Meet the CONAN Staff."

Courtesy of CONAN

What would happen if your favorite artist suddenly switched careers and became a production assistant on a late night talk show?

The CONAN team has given us a hint on what that strange scenario might look like. On the latest episode of "Meet the CONAN Staff"—a mockumentary series depicting behind-the-scenes shenanigans—Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst walks us through a day in the life of his new job.

"I sort of stumbled into the role of being the voice of the emo and indie rock movement," Oberst explains. "But that was just to pay the bills. Really, I wanted to break into late-night television production. I guess you could say I'm the Happy Gilmore of emo." But, like any assistant job, he faces his share of difficulties. Worst of all, he can't shake the habit of breaking out into his trademark quivering vocals: "The transition's been a little rocky. My brain is just so good at coming up with sad songs about how we're just pawns in this f--ked up game, that sometimes the lyrics just slip out."

Of course, Oberst isn't alone in his job. In this comical alternate reality, he works alongside his Better Oblivion Community Center bandmate, Phoebe Bridgers. Although Oberst's try-hard attitude gets some flack from his superiors, Bridgers naturally exudes an effortless cool factor. "Yeah, I'll probably do this for a while," Bridgers says. "But it's kind of a bullsh*t job."

Watch the clip and delight in the sad songs of late night TV below.

www.youtube.com

When did Asians become funny?

Sure, Asians have seemed funny to Americans since the early twentieth century when media had two representations of them: Fu Manchu, the archetypal vainglorious villain trying to "kill the white man and take his women"; and Charlie Chan, a Chinese-American detective (played by white actors Warner Oland and Sidney Toler) who became wildly popular by embodying Oriental stereotypes. But then the U.S. was pulled into World War II by the Japanese plane that struck Pearl Harbor, and suddenly Yellow Peril seemed all too real. Everyone with Asian features was suddenly a "jap," "nip," or "Asian menace" threatening to take over or generally debase America with their inferiority, a fear which intensified with the Korean War and then Vietnam War.

Maybe those fears were grounded, because Netflix recently released, "Asian Comedian Destroys America!" It's the title of Ronny Chieng's stand-up special, a play on the use of "destroy" to suggest out-of-the-park success and the history of xenophobic fear in America. "Or maybe I just came up with something funny and I'm just trying to explain it retroactively," he told The New York Times. "It came from Netflix telling me I'm not famous enough and I need a title to get people to click on the icon."

Frank admissions–somewhere between deadpan humor and social awkwardness–characterize Chieng's hour-long special, which captures his equal parts bemusement and devotion to the country he's called home since 2015. Beginning with admittedly hackneyed observations on American attention spans and wastefulness ("every night in America is a competition to see how many screens we can get between our face and the wall: iPhone, iPad, laptop, TV, and then Apple Watch"), he wades into deeper waters about racial politics and divides between his Malaysian Chinese culture and American diversity.

Asians, who only account for about 5.6% of the population, need to "get that number up," he says. Why? First, "We are the only objective referees in your ongoing race war between white and black people," Chieng explains. "Because you don't care about us, and we don't care about any of you. So you can trust us...Our skin is not in the game. Literally. NFL, NBA, our skin is in none of those games." Second, we need to elect an Asian president; "Man or woman, get that Asian president in the White House. We will fix this sh*t in a week!" The proof? "We don't shut down for anything," he said. "We don't shut down for Christmas. We work through public holidays. Any city in America when it's 3:00 a.m. and you're hungry, where do you go? You go to Chinatown cause things are delicious, affordable and open."

Chieng, already recognized for his satirical correspondence for The Daily Show and his role as Eddie Cheng in Crazy Rich Asians, doesn't defer to self-effacing humor to critique social issues, from healthcare and civil liberties to the Darwinism of gluten intolerance and the undeniable coolness of the black community owning their own racial slur. "You never see Chinese people walking around, 'Yo, where my chinks at? My chinks!" he mimes with finger guns, "Hey, stay yellow, my fellows–sounds awful!"

While the 34-year-old comedian has lived and been educated in Singapore, Australia, and the U.S., his comedy career, since 2009, has clearly been informed by the fraught history of Asians being accepted in western culture. From the title of his special to the promotional trailer's riff of media's anti-Japanese propaganda during World War II, he speaks back to Yellow Peril with alternating empathy and hardened logic.

Ronny Chieng Netflix Standup Comedy Special | Asian Comedian Destroys America! Trailer youtu.be

It might be working, at least in comedy. This year Bowen Yang became the first SNL cast member of Asian descent in the show's 44-year history, and the viral humor of Joel Kim Booster has been showcasing his observations on being gay and Asian in America ("I'm not a bad driver 'cause I'm Asian; I'm a bad driver because I won't wear my glasses and I text. It's a CHOICE!"). And in film and TV, of course, there's been Lulu Wang's The Farewell starring Awkwafina, six seasons of Fresh Off the Boat, and the flash in the pan of Crazy Rich Asians' success. But back in the early aughts, only a handful of East Asian and Indian individuals had found mainstream success in comedy (this was back when Korean-American Margaret Cho was told by a major network that she "was not Asian enough"). In cartoonist Adrian Tomine's graphic novel Shortcomings, he captures the complexities and contradictions in Asian-American masculinity and, more largely, the respectability politics involved with being accepted.

Culturally, respectability politics is an odd game of self-effacement and personal betrayal that's weighed against the prize of acceptance.

Thessaly La Force at The New York Times describes "Asian jokes" as "an accepted kind of humor when it comes to talking about Asian-Americans — it's a humor comfortable with its own ignorance, like the bully in the schoolyard who pounces on perceived weaknesses and kicks up dirt for a laugh. These types of jokes often concern Asian men's masculinity, or lack thereof — or the Asian man's helplessness in life, his neediness, his foolishness, his greed, his feminine demeanor and physicality."

Or, as Joel Kim Booster puts it, "I'm terrible at math. I don't know karate. My dick is huge." On the surface, this might even seem lazy: "Why does every comedian of color have to have material about their racial identity? Can't you come up with something else to say?" But every person of color has, at one point or other, felt the weight of racist stereotypes in the room–like an invisible, crushing fog–and been sorely tempted to comment on them first; because with stereotypes (however hackneyed) come a haunting fear that someone else will invoke them first. Whether that's in the form of an attack or, more commonly in 2019, a blatant display of the speaker's own ignorance, the resulting awkwardness permeates the room. Imagine knowing the discomfort is all about you. Embarrassment and a baseless guilt starts churning your stomach–you feel responsible to ease the tension but, at the same time, f*ck off, you didn't create this ignorance. It's all very unpleasant and, just as bad, it's never funny.

Similarly, just about every comedian of color targets racial stereotypes at some point in their act, because in an industry dominated by non-POC entertainers, their race is still an elephant in the room. Diffusing that tension is hard to do well when there are centuries of ignorance and propaganda and yellow face that have come before you, and it's even harder to do in a way that's refreshing and unique. Maybe Chieng pulls it off because he's partly socially awkward and partly just "a grumpy person," as he self-describes. "When someone says that people of your race are not supposed to be grumpy, it just makes me grumpier." Or it's his brand of authenticity when there's still been more mockery of people of color than genuine representation in American media. "I'm just trying to write what I think is funny," he says. "I'm just trying to have as authentic a reaction as possible to something."

In English author Sax Rohmer's 1913 novel, he writes, "Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan ...one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present ...Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the Yellow Peril incarnate in one man." Rohmer's caricature would become an icon of satire because of its over-the-top portrayal of foreign threats and the Asian menace. Between the 1950s and '80s, he became a subject of parody in radio and film: He became funny. Whether he's a mockery of Asian culture or the ignorance that once surrounded it depends on whether or not American media is ready for comedians like Ronny Chieng to "destroy" racist stereotypes (see what I did there? Stay yellow, my fellows).

The Fader

Everyone knows that it's a good and positive thing to find positivity and goodness in the world.

But not everyone is a visionary, once-in-a-generation genius capable of producing groundbreaking music, religious revival, and weird-looking shoes. If we were, then we would have come up with the party game—or "bored" game, as West punned—that Kanye and family showcased on this weekend's episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The good news is, you don't have to be Kanye West, or even to know Kanye West, to play this game with your own loved ones.

The rules are simple. Keep your pockets stuffed with pocket dictionaries so that, when the mood strikes, you can produce and distribute said dictionaries to everyone who wants to play. The only other equipment you need to play is a heart full of love and a highlighter. Pick a page in the dictionary and have everyone flip to that page together. Now take a minute to go through that page in silence, everyone highlighting the words they think are "positive." Once everyone is done highlighting, it's time to convene and discuss your results with the group.

This is where the magic happens. Did everyone highlight "precious," but only one person highlighted "precarious?" Why did they do that? Do they not know how the game works, or do they not know what that word means? If they don't know what that word means, why didn't they just read the definition? More importantly, who the hell highlighted MAGA? There are no wrong answers, but they need to explain why they think something that no one agrees with.

As Kanye says, "This always sparks these kinds of conversations." "These kind of conversations" being disagreements about whether "barter" is technically positive, since it "could also introduce so many negative things," and an insistent request for an explanation of why Kim highlighted "basic"—"You're not wrong or right, I just want to know why."

Thrilling. This is not the first time Kanye has espoused the wonders of reading the dictionary. Apparently he uses this exercise to assist in the song-writing process for his Sunday services. And now that you know how to play at home, you and the people you love can unlock your own religious muses by debating the emotional value of words such as "tedious," "hector," and "discord."

My only issue with the game as demonstrated is the fact that not even one member of the group highlighted "barrel." Do they have any idea how useful barrels have been to human civilization?! Do they hate beer, and wine, and oil, and basically the entire history of seafaring? Don't they know the philosophical teachings of Diogenes the Cynic? Do they have some kind of issue with the cooper community? Or maybe they're just a bunch of morons who wouldn't know true positivity if it bit them on the ass!

diogenes in a barrel Pictured: Me in my room

I don't even want to play this game anymore! Not with that bunch of jerks! I'm going to my room!

CULTURE

Werner Herzog's Interview in "Variety" Is a Sapiosexual Wet Dream

Werner Herzog is our philosopher of the end times.

If you've never seen Werner Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, allow us to tease it for you:

Herzog pieces together real footage taken by Timothy Treadwell, a young and zealous grizzly bear enthusiast who takes to camping among packs of wild bears as often as he can, because he believed he could gain their trust and be accepted among them. While Treadwell said his ultimate goal was to protect wild bears from poachers, Herzog's interviews with park rangers, bear experts, and Treadwell's friends and family unfold an eerie picture of the last five years of Treadwell's life. Spoiler: Treadwell and his girlfriend were both killed by a grizzly bear in 2003 while camping too late into the season. Treadwell's rolling camera captured the audio of their deaths. Herzog's treatment of Treadwell's life story earned him acclaim and some criticism for the macabre subject matter.
But that's Werner Herzog's wheelhouse. Older than the baby boomers, the 77-year-old director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director has cemented a place in New German Cinema and among millennials favorite philosophical weirdos. Wired called him "The Luddite Master of the Internet"; though he rejects social media as a "massive, naked onslaught of stupidity" and refuses to use a cell phone except in emergencies, his work has slowly taken on subjects like the future of technology, and he's begun acting in more mainstream projects after appearing in 2012's Jack Reacher as Tom Cruise's nemesis.

Now Herzog's come to Disney+. With the streaming platform kicking off with much fanfare, at least $375 million in marketing alone, and technical errors on launching day, its lead original series, Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian, is at the center of attention. Aside from being the first live-action TV series for the Star Wars franchise, it presents Herzog playing a villainous character. Yet, as Herzog told Variety in a recent interview, he's never seen a Star Wars movie. In fact, he barely watches films. He does, however, take an academic—nay, philosophical—interest in Wrestlemania and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, presumably in order to study the 2019 zeitgeist and, you know, track its moral and artistic decline.

Herzog's fascination with the most absurd and uncanny aspects of modern existence already makes him Twitter-perfect, but his takes on reality TV and streaming services could make him as beloved a weirdo-philosopher as Slavoj Žižek (but with less saliva.) We (along with Twitter) have to honor the too-pretentious-to-be-true pop culture commentary Herzog has given us while starring in the Hollywood franchise he's either surrendered to or he's infiltrating in order to dismantle it from within, culminating in an explosive documentary to be released just before climate change ends the world in 2030.

No, He's Really Never Seen a "Star Wars" Film

Herzog allayed fears that he was too unfamiliar with the Star Wars franchise to do justice to a part in The Mandaloriani: "You shouldn't feel upset that I haven't seen the "Star Wars" films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year."

He added, "I assume much of it was motion-controlleld cameras and green screens," which was enough to convince him that Favreau probably knew how to handle The Mandalorian artfully.

He Watches "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" Even Though They're "Vulgar"

This is the absolute best ad for Keeping Up With the Kardashians since Kim's 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries.

He Doesn't Give a Sh*t About Disney Live-Action Remakes

When asked if Herzog gave any f*cks about Jon Favreau's prestigious filmography (seriously, what?), Herzog responded: "I do not know what other films he has made." When informed that Favreau "made 'The Lion King' earlier this year with Beyonce and Donald Glover," Herzog said: "Well I like 'The Lion King,' but the animated version 30 years back or so. That was a wonderful film, the music was particularly great, Hans Zimmer's score."

Is this shade at Favreau? No. Is this shade at Beyonce or Donald Glover? No. Is this 100% Werner Herzog sitting in a chair in a room surrounded by books à la the first 5 minutes of Good WIll Hunting and not realizing there's been a Disney film released since 1990.

Disney (and Amazon and Apple) WILL Soon Rule the World, So Just Surrender Now

Herzog ends the interview by noting that the only streaming platform he's signed up for is Criterion. But now that the world will soon be run by Disney, Apple, and Amazon, he appropriately closes the interview by saying: "You're right. I have no choice but to sign up for Disney Plus and Netflix. I shall go do that now."

FILM & TV

Aubrey Plaza's Best Talk Show Moments

No one makes a host uncomfortable quite like Aubrey Plaza.

Aubrey Plaza is an actress, comedian, and producer, and now, a late night phenomenon thanks to her odd anecdotes and supremely awkward reactions.

Promoting her new movie Child's Play, Aubrey Plaza is on the media circuit again, generously giving the people what they want. Plaza makes the most seasoned hosts fumble gloriously— you can't help but laugh. Her strange persona sparkles one-on-one and now, more than ever, she's simply the most fun.

Aubrey Plaza Meets Ellen

Aubrey Plaza Meets Ellen Show www.metatube.com

Aubrey Plaza had already been on various talk shows at this point in her career, but when she finally made it to daytime television, she became a memorable interviewee. A clip of the interview was difficult to find, possibly because The Ellen DeGeneres Show tried to scrub it from the internet. Throughout their five stupendous minutes together, Ellen had no idea how to handle Plaza's off-beat delivery and humor— for once, Ellen was thrown off and hilariously perplexed.


Aubrey Plaza: F#*% You Old People, I'm Going To Live Forever!

No one can banter with Aubrey Plaza like Conan O'Brien. She's often a highlight of his program, but out of all the videos, this one stands out. Here, Aubrey recounts her legendary speech after winning the Young Hollywood Award, where she told old people to go f#*% themselves and declared that she was going to live forever. Wonderfully, she goes on to explain that as a child, she wanted to be an old woman because she believed old people could get away with anything.

Aubrey Plaza Flashed The Dirty Grandpa Producers at Her Audition

For once, the headline of a late night clip isn't clickbait. Seth Meyers, with his boyish charm, giddily laughed while Plaza narrated the unforgettable moment. Although Plaza had been asked to audition for Zac Efron's love interest, she pushed to play the role of Robert De Nero's smokin' boo. This interview has it all: butts, producers, dirty pictures, and of course, Aubrey Plaza.


Aubrey Plaza's Audition For Catwoman

Just the other day, Plaza graced Stephen Colbert's show to promote Child's Play. Jump forward to the 6:50-minute mark to experience their hysterical bit. After Colbert asks her about wanting to audition for Catwoman, she slowly transforms into the role as Colbert brings out more cat-like accessories. The clip ends with Plaza on Colbert's desk, pawing at his face. The host couldn't help but smile as he tried to move to commercial break.

The Parks and Recreation Cast Sings "Bye, Bye Li'l Sebastian"

Saving the best for last, Aubrey Plaza took bits to a whole other level on Late Night with Seth Meyers during the Parks and Recreation send-off— stealing the spotlight with another co-star. Please, just watch for yourself if you haven't seen the sensational clip already.