From Producer Ann Marie Baldonado:
Terry always says it’s difficult to pick favorite interviews, and I totally agree. I can’t even remember the interview I worked on this week or what we have booked for next week (That’s a slight exaggeration. This week I worked on Jill Soloway. Next week it’s Hasan Minaj.) Still, I will try to point out a few interviews that I will always remember when forced to go through my mental archives.
A lot of public radio listeners will remember the late David Rakoff from his work on This American Life. In 2001, he talked to Terry about his acting career, and being frustrated by the roles that were offered to him. He said they would fall under two categories – “Jew-y McHebrew’ or ‘Fudgy McPacker.’ He did dramatic/hysterical renditions of the lines he remembered. He was so funny, and elicited the much sought after Terry “snort.” Now, I have laughed a lot while logging interviews on Fresh Air, but during this one, I had to stop logging because I was crying from laughing so hard. Fresh Air replayed this part of the interview when Rakoff passed away too soon in 2012.
I first stated booking film, TV, and theater interviews for Terry in the spring of 2005, so this is an early one. Schoonmaker is the film editor who has worked with Martin Scorsese for over 40 years. She has edited all of his films since Raging Bull in 1980. She’s just this wonderful, thoughtful artist who works behind the scenes, plugging away, making great films. Terry’s interview with her was one smart lady who loves movies talking to another smart lady who loves movies.
I have loved booking directors, actors, and comedians early in their careers and watching their bodies of work grow. People like Lena Dunham, Flight of the Conchords, and Hari Kondobolu come to mind. I have loved booking interviews with director Mike Mills over the years. We booked him after his first film Thumbsucker in 2005, then for his movies Beginners and 20th Century Women. He is the ideal guest: open, smart, self-deprecatingly funny, and talks so well about how his work connects to his life, a favorite Fresh Air theme. I feel their conversations about his films, that in reality are like love letters to his parents, end up leading to larger conversations between Terry and Mike, about their parents who they have lost.
Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang
This one is a little more current. I am not alone in this but one of my favorite recent TV shows has to be Master of None. Some of the episodes from that first season (Parents and Indians on TV) live on my list of favorite episodes of TV ever. I loved hearing friends Aziz and Alan talk about their own lives and how they incorporated their experiences into the show. Everyone loves Aziz; I am glad we were able to have Alan on too. We should forever thank them not just for this show, but for their work on Parks and Recreation. And this is just one of the interviews that covered these great, really personal shows based on the lives of a great comedian, sort of the antecedents of Louie. I am glad in the last few years, we have featured interviews with people like Aziz and Alan, Donald Glover, Issa Rae, and Rachel Bloom.
Sacha Baron Cohen
I am proud of booking this one. Up until this point, Sacha Baron Cohen was very committed to staying in character as Borat while doing all the promotion of his movie. We were so happy that he agreed to do Fresh Air as himself, thus revealing that he was this accessible, intelligent guy. He was quick to slip into his Borat voice though. We love when guests slip into their characters’ voices.
Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva
It was a round about way to book an interview. The movie The Bang Bang Club, starring Taylor Kitsch and Ryan Phillippe, told the story of a group of war photographers in South Africa during Apartheid. We used the movie as an excuse to book an interview with Marinovich and Silva, two of the real photographers who inspired the film. Both of them had lost dear friends to the work. And both of them had been injured while trying to visually capture combat situations. In fact, Silva was recording his part of the interview from Walter Reed Army Medical Center; he had lost both of his legs in a land mine explosion in Afghanistan and was still recovering. At one point, a nurse comes in to talk to Silva. It was such a rare radio moment that we decided to leave it in the interview. Terry has spoken to many war correspondents and photographers over the years. These interviews are inevitably harrowing, tragic, thoughtful, and moving.
–Ann Marie Baldonado, Fresh Air producer
PS. Ann Marie sometimes does interviews. Her latest was with SNL’s Sasheer Zamata.