The Final Episode

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership today on Studio 360.

S2: Our super special all star finale episode was a new matter. Anyway, it’s our last day which got us to wondering how are you supposed to finish? A long running show is usually sort of world change. You know, someone’s hired, someone’s fired, somebody is moving, somebody gets a new job. The end of an era finale, right? Yes, exactly. It’s like this time together is ending. Dave Mandel and Warren Light, the makers of Veep and Law,& Order and other hit TV series share their expertise of some classic finales.

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S3: And some even more famous show business friends of the show come back for a last round of fellow talk show host. I am crestfallen that you’re not doing this anymore.

S4: And a Grammy winning singer songwriter, you have led me and many millions of people to lots of places we would never have gone.

S5: That’s all ahead on the final STUDIO 360 for all time. Right after this.

S4: This is Studio 360. My favorite thing on the show is that it can give me a new way of looking at things like putting art into context. I guess I would say serendipitous, eclectic. We sort of try to be irreverent.

S6: Seems unexpected because you’re always trying to tell stories about someone else. But in the end, you find yourself, don’t go anywhere. Anything could happen.

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S7: That’s all, folks.

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S8: Welcome to Episode 1008, our very last episode. This show has been on the air since 2000, almost 20 years, which is hard for me to get my head around. And so many memories are now flowing around my mind. Cheesy song, I know, but our very first episode aired in 2000 right after Cats closed on Broadway, because back then little known Fact Cats and Studio 360 were not permitted to inhabit the same universe. A joke. In fact, we’d started work on this show a whole year earlier at the tail end of the 90s and now in retrospect, looking back professionally, it was a kind of manic decade for me doing one thing after another I’d never done before.

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S5: Like some kind of crazed Daffy Duck. So the start of the 90s, I was running Spy magazine, which I co-founded and we sold. So then I was the design critic for Time magazine, then co-wrote an off-Broadway play, then became editor of New York magazine, from which I got fired for displeasing the billionaire owner and became a columnist for The New Yorker, then published my first novel, Turn of the Century at the Turn of the Century.

S8: And then in late 1999, got a phone call out of the blue that changed my life.

S9: I’m Melinda Ward, the former chief content officer for PR I and was the original creator of Studio 360.

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S8: She asked if I was interested in helping create a new show, yet another job for which I had no training or experience.

S9: He’d written plays. He’d done work for television. I mean, he just was a renaissance person in the arts and in journalism. And that was exactly the kind of person we were looking for. He hadn’t done radio before, but as with everything else, he jumped in with both feet and was willing to take a lot of direction and learn the craft of radio.

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S8: So talented producers and engineers who knew how to make radio were hired. I’m going to write a show for us.

S10: On our side right now.

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S8: And we crafted our mission to cover anything in the culture that interested us focus on ideas, go deep into the creative process, every medium, any genre, high art and pop culture cutting edge as well as the excellent old. And try to be smart and fun.

S11: So the early 2000s weren’t that long ago. But combing through the archives, turns out, yeah, they actually were.

S12: I mean, in 2003, we still felt obliged to explain what the Internet was. You probably use the Internet and if you use the Internet, you probably conduct searches with a search engine. But if not for you Luddites. And my mother, here’s a primer. And a couple of years later, heralding the birth of YouTube.

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S13: There has been a whole lot of media chatter lately about MySpace dot com and teens being teens on the Internet. And, oh, gosh, what does it all mean? Well, I don’t know of a more vivid glimpse into the wired teen world circa spring 2006 than a homemade web video somebody sent to our forward this department the other day.

S8: Yeesh.. Eventually I got better. And lucky me got to have all these long, complicated human conversations with a thousand more than a thousand authors and musicians and composers and poets and actors and directors and designers and makers and thinkers and storytellers really of every kind about how and why they they make what they make and think how they think. I got to meet and talk with, I don’t know, at least 100 actual heroes of mine. It’s it’s really a staggering list, like just the four people I interviewed who happened to be named Smith, the playwright Anna Deavere Smith, singer Patti Smith, the novelist Alice Smith, the poet Tracy K. Smith, Love the heart sliced open.

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S14: Got it clean love. Make it almost in the everlasting street skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze.

S15: There’s a banquet which we.

S16: And I was paid to do it. Public radio money.

S8: But still, I could spend the rest of this hour playing favorite bits of favorite interviews and stories and you’ll hear a few later. But an important confession compared to writing books and every other kind of work I’ve ever done. This job was actually easy because I just had to read and look and listen and think and talk.

S17: Extraordinarily talented producers did all of the difficult, thankless work. We few.

S12: We happy few. A full time team. A couple of dozen people over the two decades making up for my blind spots, coming up with ideas and themes and guests and getting them here and taking this show with all of us to all kinds of places that I never could have done alone. And of course, did all the meticulous engineering and gorgeous sound design and went out and produced so many fantastic stories of their own.

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S18: Half the show has consisted of their stories and those by dozens of independent producers as well. That is the great thing. Studio 360 has been a show all about creative makers by creative makers such as our Peabody Award winning American icons show within the show.

S3: In this hour of Studio 360’s American Icons, we’re looking at a house single story Villa, Virginia, Brick and White Trim, Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia.

S19: If you want to understand this country and what it means to be optimistic and tragic and wrong and courageous, you need to go to Monticello.

S3: Dozens of full on documentary hours and stories exploring everything from Disney Land to Monticello and I Love Lucy to the autobiography of Malcolm X and all those, incidentally, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which the current administration has just once again proposed shutting down.

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S20: Please make sure that doesn’t happen. Thank you.

S16: So you can keep listening online forever to all 1008 Studio 360 episodes we’ve made. But after 20 years, this is our Last Waltz. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, that first Broadway production of Cats, it only ran for 18 years.

S21: So we win.

S22: I’m Lee Tall Mallard, and one of the highlights of my experience at the show is I got to take a trip with Kurt to Japan.

S23: Does see C60 in Schiewe?

S24: Our main guest for that show are kind of cultural guide was named Lisa Katayama. And so she said, well, one of the things that you must understand to understand this culture of Kawai, the cult of cute in Japan, is I have to take you to a particular booth.

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S25: This is called pretty cool on that. Got bigger picture. Mecca like photobooth.

S26: Photobooth is what all these pre-teen and teen girls were crazy about at the time.

S24: We go into this place was kind of feels like a casino, but a casino for twelve year old girls with flashing lights and pink and kitty cats and all these images flashing all over the walls and music blasting out of these little booths. And so we certainly can’t go into this photo booth.

S25: There’s the camera. And so do we get to choose anything or we have to make a lot of choices? Do you want to be a sweet, beautiful girl or colorful?

S26: I think it’s a sweet spot. They were doing all these poses and picking little cats in the stars and flowers. Everything was pink and sparkly. You have to do that pose. And that’s just step one. Oh, hello. Now it’s time to decorate the photos. All right. So now you grab a pen and just go to town on this photo. So there’s a little bug, little mushrooms, little rabbits, all those little. He was just like, this is more solidified.

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S27: Our friendship and our day on stick friends for about.

S8: As I said earlier, I’ve interrogated lots and lots of people on their show, so for this final episode we decided on a role reversal today in my chair for a while. Is Alec Baldwin, who, in addition to acting here and there, also hosts a podcast called Here’s The Thing. And here today, conducting my exit interview, Alec. We have known each other for a long time, but I don’t I can’t really recall. Hey, how did you meet?

S28: I don’t know. I think I walked into a restaurant with Lego Elaine’s type of place, if not that. And you were there with a bunch of people. That was really no place for me at that table. It was all the elite of the literati.

S29: I think you’ve made that up. But I do remember another restaurant where sometime in this century where we I was coming and you were going out and you said, hey, hey. And and and you said to me, I want your life. I want a radio show and to write books. I said, OK, all yours. And then guest host of the show. And then a few years later, in 2010, you just hosted this program. And I think it launched my career. Launched your radio career? Your podcast radio. We had never had a guest host. And here’s you being me.

S30: This is Studio 360. I’m Alec Baldwin. Kurt Anderson is recuperating from a costly, painful and completely unnecessary dental procedure. I’m Alec Baldwin, sitting in for Kurt Anderson, who is locked in the trunk of my Toyota. Kurt Anderson will be in next week. Assuming he gets the antivenom in time.

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S29: I loved all those and I didn’t know about them. And I didn’t write those, by the way. Well, I l-low l’d each time. So you’ve written books since then. One with me and I wrote a book and I put my name on it. You would. You wrote a book and I helped you sell it well.

S31: And so we did that parody memoir by our current press. If he gets re-elected, we’re going to go to Brooklyn. Really? We’re gonna. Oh, I think we’ll do the show if he gets re-elected. So there’s an upside there. There’s an upside. My heart and I’ll have a career after this program. I got you covered. So now that you’re a skilled and successful podcast host, here you are. And it’s all yours. Take it away.

S28: No, but when you started out I mean, this is a cliched question, but when you started out, how would you describe Kurt Anderson at the mike in the beginning and what was he like? I it’s hard.

S32: I mean, the first few years was occasion listened back to those and and. Yeah. I didn’t know quite what I was doing.

S33: I was tentative on my show when I tried to get to what I call the billiard break. What’s the question that opens up the table for to run the tape? How do I ask the question that’s going to open up that person to feel comfortable? To feel safe?

S29: Yeah. Not very many years ago, I realized, oh, what this is like having I say having not been on a date in 40 years. It’s like a first date that will never have a second date.

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S28: But you want to impress them on the first day and you want them to love you. But you know, you know, it’s not going to go anywhere because it’s great. That’s a great it’s not a date. The first date with no hope of a second date. What about somebody who was a dream get. And you got somebody just somebody you thought, oh, God, wouldn’t this be great?

S31: There are many, including you, Alec. However, I was going to say Susan Sontag, who had been a hero of mine, and and early on in the show when we were about to invade Iraq, and I thought, oh, we’re gonna invade Iraq. Let’s try to book Susan Sontag, who’s been in the Balkan war, written about war, you know, was a lefty and now is okay with certain words. Let’s let’s have her on as my guest for the whole show and we’ll do a bunch of pieces about war. And she agreed, oh, my gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever researched more for a guest than I did for Susan Sontag because I didn’t want to disappoint her, basically. And then like two days before she’s coming on, her assistant calls my producer and says, you know, the Sontag does not suffer fools.

S8: Like what? What on earth would they have suspected they needed to say that to you? Well, it was early on, you know, in the show. So who knew? And she came on. We disagreed about things, but we had the best two hours conversation. It was a dream.

S34: And I think if people do feel turned off or indifferent to images of horror and war and suffering that they see and that they feel indignant about.

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S8: So in a sense, your change of heart about the power of images to portray war and atrocity represents kind of a dis disillusioning or a religion.

S35: Well, that’s a very clever way of putting it.

S36: A dis disillusioning. Yes. That this disillusionment. That’s that’s right. That’s absolutely right. Plus afterword.

S29: She I think of the thousand people or whatever that I’ve interviewed on this show, the only handwritten thank you note I’ve ever received, yet another dream guest was Tom Hanks. Somewhat less daunting because I’d actually met him before he was on the show back when I was a journalist writing for The New Yorker. I did a profile of him. And years later, at some screening of some movie, he came up to me and he goes, Curt Anderson, the great. Writer Kurt Andersen bar in the middle of this crowd, and I thought, my gosh, what a nice guy. What a mensch, what a mensch. And then I asked him on the courts of Studio 360 to do something most recently on this two hour documentary we did about 2001 A Space Odyssey, which I knew he was a big fan of. He came on and was amazing cell music by rote and did the openings.

S18: Thus, spake Strauss, exactly what you have to start with is the WAMU-FM.

S37: By.

S38: But bom bom bom bom bom bom.

S18: Another memorable, fabulous guest was the illustrator, Ralph Steadman, who of course, was the partner in crime of Hunter Thompson in Rolling Stone. And and I encountered that when I was 16 and it was, whoa, my life has changed. So. Ralph Steadman walks into the studio, this jolly 78 year old, and with his bottle of indelible ink and pen just starts drawing directly on this nice wooden desk. Well, I’m I’m making an attempt to draw Kurt. Yeah.

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S39: Oh, you’ve got Samantha. Yeah, I’ve got good hair. That’s what they say. Listen, this is really simply. I look like a pig now. Yeah, I know. Unfortunate.

S40: Ralph Steadman. Oh, it’s a pleasure. It was a total pleasure. And and I have never been so happy at an active event.

S39: Vandalism. Oh. Oh, it’s happy vandalism today, isn’t it?

S29: Then speaking of like, oh, who was great? I expected nothing of France. Not I didn’t expect nothing of it. But Matthew McCartney. Oh, yeah. You’re good. Fine. Great. Come on. Well, I felt seduced. I felt like, wow, I. I’d go to a room with you now. I want. I want to be him for a month.

S32: Definitely. Magic. My what I did in that for a lot of people was I popped the proverbial balloon. I kind of took some of what was my image of a man. You’re in shape shirtless on the beach, you know, and running. And I said, well, let’s go to the Smithsonian with this. Yes. The wardrobe is so much fun in that they had all these sweats and. Right. Ales and champion sort of switch that people would wear the gym. I was like, no, no, no. This is this is Richard Simmons. Meet Baryshnikov.

S29: Yeah. Spending an hour talking to somebody that you’d never met about their life, about work, about ideas, about how the creative process works. It knowing you probably would never have another opportunity for one for the show. I mean, I take advantage of the chance you might meet him at a dinner and have a nice five minute encounter. But that would be that they’re not giving you an unbroken hour to talk to them. And the opportunity to be impertinent. You know, not mean because it’s a first date and you want to know what you want, make an impression. But to be impertinent. That is the beauty of the journalistic part of this is not just warm bath and massage. Was all like, hey, I can I can ask you something that I would feel uncomfortable asking probably if I was seated next to you on a plane or at a dinner, for instance, I think at the end of my interview with Angelina Jolie.

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S1: Well, most of my tattoos are a lot of them were done in different countries or some of the leather coordinates of where I met my kids. They’re all symbolic of my fans. My mom, before she passed away, he said it was like a totem pole. Have my history. There you go. You’re right. You seem like a totally sane person again. Not that I expected anon. Totally sane person, but you seem like you have a head on your shoulders. Well, thank you very much.

S33: Now, one last question I have for you is do you think of interviewing somebody was a personal character in your life. If there was a life, your parents, your wife.

S29: I actually. Both of my daughters in various incarnations as they were growing up when they were little.

S41: He’s kind of space that some but not and I am not not like in a negative that I just kind of a childlike, cute kind of way or Lucy.

S8: She and her sister Kate were also on like just a couple of years ago together discussing kids books. And Kate, you are now a true adult. You still read a lot of fantasy.

S35: I read a lot of the books that would make you cringe on the subway. No, no, no. You read a lot of fantasy fictions with maps in them. And does that feel like, oh, I’m still holding on to some child part of myself, to you or just. These are the books I like. No. I mean, not consciously. We can examine that later. But hey, I just like them. Therapy. Exactly. You know, your wife reads those books. And Lucy. When are you having children?

S42: Okay.

S33: I’m going to finish with this. And I hope to God your producers, ahem, make sure that they include this in the show. And I said this, too. I am crestfallen that you’re not doing this anymore. My routine is over. I’m up early. I brush my teeth. I take my kids. We go downstairs. We feed. The kids were in East Hampton. Click. You come on the air. I listen to your show and you’re so good at this. And your show is such a great show. And you should be so proud of us. I mean, I mean, after all, this is before you’re so not enough. Well, you’re here. So you’re just still bitter.

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S28: The fact you’re darling have a pure Dahl book show. Well, being in your slipstream when we all went on a book tour for a few weeks was one of the great. You don’t want to maybe even pretended. Well, I don’t want to be you, but I like wanna be your wingman. I want to be your wingman and get those. You want to be Matthew McConaughey. But you don’t want to be me. I get. I get that. I get that.

S33: Yeah. I’m going to say this to you now. I hope to God we don’t do this. I hope to God we’re not faced with the situation. Hope to God someone else is in the White House. At the end of this year. But if for some reason we are condemned to another four years of this, it is I who will be paddling in your wake. It is I who will be paddling in your wake. Because you’re going to buy that whole show boat. And I’m just gonna come out there and go.

S43: Good evening, everybody. Good evening. And that’s it.

S8: Well, yeah, I feel completely a deal, although now you curse me with mixed feelings about November 3rd.

S44: I think the consolation prize. Second, it’ll be the ultimate consolation prize. What a pleasure. You too, buddy.

S16: You can listen to Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the thing on WNYC studios, dot org or wherever you get podcasts.

S45: My name is Sean Ramos firm. We had so much fun making Studio 360 in my time there, it is almost impossible to pick one or two projects to showcase. But here’s an attempt. They both relate to stuff that we discovered through you, our listeners. Steve Rockband back in high school.

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S46: I don’t even know what it is, but you’ve got it. Battle lines for high school.

S45: We asked you to send in the music that you made in high school and then asked Andrew W.K. and Tao Winn to pick their favorite songs.

S4: I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to come into work and listen to the music you made.

S45: It was such a joy. I don’t know if it’s just evolution of the species because a lot of these more recent high school songs really blow away the quality on every level. It’s inspiring.

S22: I got paid to reach out to Wes Craven, the master of suspense, and ask him to judge our scary short film contest and now worth waiting for.

S46: Yes, my shorts. I thought it was kind of scary.

S45: It was incredible. Astounding. We couldn’t believe the stuff you sent. Long live Studio 360. And I hope the entire archive ends up in the Library of Congress where it belongs.

S8: So here we are on the last Studio 360 ever. We thought we’d take a look at how that works in fictional broadcasting on the ends of TV shows like When Major Characters Leave or Seasons End or most of all, when there is a finale. Other show, I think when you’re talking about TV shows that ended 10 or 30 or 50 years ago saying spoiler alert is kinda ridiculous, but okay. Multis spoiler alert. So or in light, old friend. Welcome back, Dave Mendell. Slightly less old friend. Welcome back as well. So, Dave, you’re mr. Half hour comedy king, including Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Veep. And Warren, your Mr. New York, our drama king, including two different lawn orders.

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S18: Sure. And a boxing show in a psychiatry’s show, just right in treatment. But there’s West Coast, East Coast thing. So Biggie to pack. Do you know each other? I don’t know anyone.

S47: Yeah, I’m I’m I’m a shut in. I wish I was Mr. New York, though. I lived in New York for many years. I was never missed in New York. I wish I was that. But hello. I’m actually a big fan. Yeah. It’s mutual.

S32: So I want to know as crafts people, as showrunners, as writers. Your personal experience of writing endings of things, Dave. You go first.

S47: Oh, I’ve had sort of two experiences which were both sort of very interesting and very different. I was sort of a passenger, if you will. When Seinfeld in that I was a writer on the show. But Larry David actually came back and he and Jerry did the finale together. And so, you know, we were there. We were pitching, you know, jokes here and there. But it was very much there, baby. So if you remember, there was, you know, a lot of the sort of old characters coming back to testify against the gang, basically.

S30: I was in a stitchers bakery when I got accosted by that man. Let the record show that she’s pointing at Mr. Seinfeld.

S44: How did she try to kill you? She tried to smother me with a pillow butter in this cart.

S48: You know, it was like an anti It’s a Wonderful Life ending, right. They all come back and say ante testimonials. It’s a terrible life.

S47: Yeah. Yes. Yes. These guys were awful to me. You know, they are bad people.

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S48: It almost began with a whimper and ended with a whimper. It was actually oddly true to itself. The Seinfeld finale. Yeah.

S47: And ultimately, very much a show about sort of, you know, true to its form of no learning, no hugging. It was a group of people that sort of, you know, what do you have to say? For these nine years, they learned nothing. I mean, that was my take on it. So that was sort of experience one. And then last spring, I got to sort of end veep myself, you know, really in the driver’s seat, which was really sad and fun to do and obviously a lot more active, I guess. Describe it for those few listeners who didn’t see it. So basically, we’d spent the season with her running for the presidency. And our final episode was the convention, sort of a brokered convention. And she’s trying to make her moves. And basically at the convention she does a bunch of horrible things in exchange for your support.

S49: I will outlaw same sex marriage. Governor, can I get an a man?

S50: You can get in a man and I’ll throw in a hallelujah. I love it. And my endorsement. Thank you.

S47: And she gets what she wanted. I mean, in a horrible, horrible way. And we do to sort of forward jumps one, we jump to the White House after she’s been inaugurated and we sort of see her alone there and realize that in a weird way, even though she got what she wanted, she sort of suffering. And then we jumped to the future to her funeral.

S51: Live coverage of the funeral of Selina Meyer, America’s first woman president.

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S47: And then as the news coverage is covering her funeral, Tom Hanks dies.

S51: I’m sorry. Breaking news.

S47: I’ve just been told that four time Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks has died at the age of 88, which is a callback to the first episode where they hypothesize that maybe if Tom Hanks dies, it would knock a bad story out of the news.

S50: Let’s not make it a story in panic. Okay? What if Tom Hanks dies?

S47: Star thought now he really dies. And you realize at this moment that history is already beginning to forget Selina Meyer.

S48: She stood for nothing, accomplished nothing, and left. But I thought that the ending was organic and also absolutely brilliant.

S32: I’m so. Warren, have you. I mean, you’ve obviously written and overseen the writing of season finales. Are you ever like working on writing a season ender, not knowing yet if you’ve been renewed? And so you knows often.

S48: I ended one season with Mariska on Westview, Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Benson on Law& Order SFE. Yeah. She comes home and puts the groceries on the counter and there’s a gun to her head. It’s the evil character of William Lewis, the most psychopathic guy we’ve ever had, and he has the gun to her head. And we went to black and we hadn’t been picked up yet. And it was a little bit of a I dare. And be seen to end the series on that note. That could have been the series end. And now it’s like, you know, 36 seasons later and we’re civilians now.

S32: I mean, both of you are obviously have encyclopedic knowledge of television. I want you guys to talk about some of the conventions of the form of the finale.

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S47: I think a biggie these days is usually sort of a little bit of a world change. You know, someone’s hired, someone’s fired, somebody is moving, somebody gets a new job. Even I guess in drama world, there can be sort of the crime versions of that. You know what I mean? Like someone gets arrested, someone leaves town. But, you know, there’s something that sort of changes the status quo out of nowhere in the finale, the end of an era finale. Right. Yes, exactly. It’s like this time together is ending, you know, and it starts even going back to Mary Tyler Moore.

S52: Mr. Grant, what’s the new matter, anyway? It’s our last day.

S48: We can’t remember friends, which I thought was almost diabetes inducing ending. But that was the apartment was Ross and Rachel are together. Yeah, I know. And they’re all hungry.

S53: But she has like a new job and they’re going to go shopping to leave town for the new job or something like that. Yeah. Monica and Chandler have twins. Look around, you guys.

S54: Worse fake babies I’ve ever seen. This was your first home and it was a happy place filled with love and laughter. But more important, because of rent control, it was a friggin steal.

S48: But it ended on that apartment. The apartment was empty. And they’re going to start their new lives. There has to be closure and a little bit of where opening another door.

S47: The other one, which, by the way, we were guilty of on Veep, is the jump ahead a million years. Again, I like to think I used it OK. But I do think it’s become, you know, Sammy’s standard like six feet under before you and like Silicon Valley after you. And by the way, I made a point of watching Six Feet Under, knowing that they jumped ahead to kind of remind myself, like, what did they do in the fact that it was more lyrical? And I guess I felt like, well, we’ve got a joke at the end of ours that the Tom Hanks that I felt like, okay, I can do this. But, boy, I was worried about it for about a second or two until I rewatched it.

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S48: I had I ask one question today. Do you think it’s easier to write the finale? You didn’t create the series. You took it over masterfully and it went seamlessly. But I wonder if it’s harder for the ones who created those characters to let go.

S47: It’s interesting. For whatever it’s worth, I had a different relationship with the characters. And the thing because I was a big fan of the show before I ever worked there. And so maybe my perspective on it was different. But I will also tell you by the end of the four years, I was every bit as possessive as the man who created it. So I think, you know, I don’t know, it didn’t seem any easier from that perspective.

S48: I just I wondered because it’s one of the best finales by somebody who adopted that show and made it his own. And some of the less successful finales have been by the originators. I wonder if that’s why David Chase just ended abruptly.

S8: David Chase, maker of The Sopranos, which had this ending. People are divided about was it brilliant or come on, I want a real ending. What do you think? I always really liked it.

S47: I mean, what I remember about that season was I remember the conversation that they had about what it’s like to get whacked, basically. And they sort of talked about how you just sort of there. And then all of a sudden it kind of just happens and it goes black. And so when I saw it, I just to myself, I went, this is what that is. And I love it. And this is wonderful that after all this time and I was living with him and all his foibles and whatnot, there is this moment in the four of them are there and somebody does it, whether it’s the guy in the plaid shirt or whatever, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, that is the end of that life and that’s what it is. I think maybe people were infuriated in a weird way, those that didn’t like it by the refusal to definitively go. Yes, he is dead wrong. He isn’t.

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S48: I remember watching, thinking my cable just went out. But I will say, first of all, it’s the one finale. Everybody still talks about, you know, and still remembers the beats of the daughter parking the song on the jukebox, the guy coming the way, the diner locked.

S55: This is the systematic quality to that last scene.

S50: The jingling of the bells when people and by the way, for people who haven’t perhaps seen it, whether it’s the four of them sitting there in a diner, the family, the soprano family eating and nothing happens and it ends.

S48: It cuts to black, though, it it just yes, dramatically cuts off. And so I assumed, oh, he just got whacked. And I thought, that’s nice. Wouldn’t have to see it. We know where it goes. And just cinematically, I think it’s one of the most beautiful last scenes of it’s just so much going on and it was bold.

S18: So what about comedy versus drama? On this score, presumably it’s a different challenge doing comedy finales.

S48: I don’t think so. No, I know. I think they’re the same in terms of what do you want to say about your character?

S29: Yeah. But doesn’t comedy, Dave, have have more at least leeway to, like, do something self-referential and goofy like Seinfeld? Like the Newhart ending?

S53: It definitely does. But I could go to the St. Elsewhere ending, which is one of my all time favorites that basically, you know, ends you know, the regular show ends very dramatically with, you know, the the corporation that had taken over the hospital leaving. And I think a couple of people had died and a whole bunch of different stuff.

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S55: But, you know, there’s the birth of the new day. And as they walk away and it snows, they pull back and it’s the autistic son, Tommy or whatever his name was looking in a snow globe.

S18: The exact snowy scene we’ve been watching all episode long as viewers is what this this kid is looking at inside his snow globe.

S56: I don’t understand this autism saying. He’s my son. I talk to him. I don’t even know him. He sits there all day long in his own world, staring at that toy.

S55: You kind of go, oh, the whole season was this autistic kid and he’s just been staring into a snow globe.

S47: And I laughed out loud and sort of never forgot it. And that was about as dramatic as a God on St. Elsewhere. That sticks with me more today than perhaps maybe the Friends finale. Yeah. You know, I think you have choices when you do these things, how much you want to please your audience, how much you want to please yourself and where those lines are. And I think some people want to wrap everything up in a very pretty bow. And I guess I choose the autistic snow globe version of life. So there you go.

S29: My sense or my memory as a child, that finale episodes weren’t a big deal until the fugitive Tuesday, September 5th.

S39: They run a stop in 1967, 10 years old.

S48: I remember watching that with relatives was one of the few times my family got together. It was a major event.

S29: Yeah. And then they became a thing. MASH and Mary Tyler Moore and the rest. You know, it’s like it’s like television suddenly decided, hey, we’d been missing a bet here.

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S47: But I think you had to be a certain kind of show. I mean, these shows that we’re talking about were already I won’t say they were phenomenon unto themselves, but these were very popular shows.

S57: I mean, MASH, obviously, tomorrow, the dance of the 4 0 7 7 will be coming down for good.

S47: I mean, I remember I guess I was in high school, the very the beginning of high school when MASH ended. And I feel like they didn’t give us homework that night.

S58: Look, I know how tough it is for you to say goodbye. So I’ll say. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we will see each other again. But just in case we don’t. I want you to know how much it meant to me.

S47: They literally bent the school year to the MASH finale so that we could all go home and we could all watch it. And then there was time to discuss it the next day. So kids. I’m not quite sure at this point there’s any show that would get that these sort of no homework thing. You know what I mean?

S8: One of the great finales was the Post’s modern end of Newhart in 1990, back when we called things postmodern. Newhart’s character wakes up in the dark from a dream, honey.

S59: Honey, honey, wake up you. You won’t believe the dream I just had.

S18: And then the light turned on and we find out that he’s in bed with his wife from his previous sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show, which ran back in in the 70s. And it’s now an exact recreation of that bedroom from that older show.

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S60: So the studio audience, like all of us watching at home, went nuts when when we see Suzanne Pleshette, who had played his earlier character’s wife on the old show.

S59: What is it?

S8: So this entire show, Newhart had been a dream within this other show that had ended more than a decade ago.

S47: It was genius because that was a show with not a lot of ongoing storyline. You know, over the years, you know, the characters got married. But other than that, it didn’t really. Each season didn’t have an arc the way at least we tried to do on Veep and obviously Warren does. And so those episodes were more stand alone. And so to be able to kind of craft that dream ending was really, again, I think, very special, whereas I think other standalone shows have ended over the years without people taking as much notice.

S29: I mean, I mean, that may for my money win the prize for certainly comedy and they in that category. Oh, it was brilliant.

S48: I always felt bad for the second wife. I’ve I always felt like is she got killed off.

S59: And I was married to this beautiful blonde, fell back asleep. Good night.

S48: It was a little bit of a diss like the second marriage was meaningless. I’m still in love with. And we’re all still leavitts. Who’s Amphlett yet? So I understood. But in terms of it was the craziest dream. There was this guy here that was it was brilliant.

S18: Yes, indeed. Now you guys are scripted show creators and writers and show runners since since this show is is more of a talk show and since like Johnny Carson, I grew up in Nebraska. I’m thinking, what did you think of Johnny Carson’s last Tonight Show in 1992, 28 years ago now?

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S61: Hey, Johnny. I believed it. I thought it was so heartfelt. I remember Marc Shaiman playing piano for Bette Midler and.

S62: Go.

S63: And John, I know you’re getting anxious to close.

S64: So thanks. Father, she did.

S65: Again.

S48: I don’t think anybody will ever mean as much the what Johnny meant to us kids growing up then. He was so private, but there was that little hint of maybe not a tier, but something in his eye. But it was absolutely beautiful television. It stays with you. I think one of the tests is which ones stay with you, you know? Right. I think that was one of those national farewells.

S32: One night. And David Mendell, I so appreciate.

S47: Warren and I have prepared a song for you, Kurt. We just yet finalized. I didn’t want to bring it up, but we have spent weeks. We have Mark qeyno climb up on the table. Here we meet again. Yeah, we got nothing for you. I’m sorry. This is a pretty terrible for now. And I apologize.

S8: I tell you, both of you being here was more than gift enough. Thank you very much.

S66: Drink to sweet.

S67: Make it one for my baby and one for.

S68: My name is John Dolore. I’m Julia Lowery Henderson. I think my favorite Studio 360 memory is from when Julia Lowry, Henderson and myself went to Toni Morrison’s apartment. I was just about to hit Stop on the recorder and Toni Morrison said.

S69: Now, Mr. Engineer, you have a little chore and I let it keep rolling over there in that corner with that little lantern, that little thingy.

S70: There are bottles of vodka. Yeah.

S68: She asked me to pour her a glass to celebrate the interview.

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S69: You may join me if you lag you out. Laughs No. Just pour me a drink is what I’m saying. It was the middle of the afternoon. Technically, we were working. Both of you have some. You’ve done well today.

S1: But who’s going to say no to Toni Morrison offering you a funky shot? Not me. It was really some 50 years, so I guess.

S8: I am now here with the fabulous Grammy winning singer songwriter Rosanne Cash, along with her husband and guitarist and producer John Leventhal. Welcome back, hiker.

S32: The cynical, funny thing that people say about the ends of things these days is now it’s all about the friends you made along the way. But then I realized of all of the hundreds and perhaps close to a thousand people that I’ve had in here talking to having conversations with, there’s only one person I’ve actually become a friend of and with. As a result. And that’s you, madam. You’re gonna help. That’s the intention. It’s a no. And I don’t know why that is. I may not. I am not the warmest and fuzziest human being on earth.

S71: Some say I partly know why it is. Why is that?

S72: Because you and I are really similar in why we came to New York and we’ve never actually talked about this. But I think that you and I both were New Yorkers before we got here, and we came from places that were incredibly different from where we are now and that we came to find out who we were really like we saw ourselves in the mirror of New York. And I think that drew us to each other’s friends.

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S32: Well, as long as we’re talking about meeting on this show, we have actually a piece of the tape of that meet. Not so cute moment from the first time you’re on here in 2004.

S12: And Wayne and Rosanne Cash is here with me today to talk about the challenges of being a creative child of a big time creative family.

S32: Rosanne Cash, welcome to Studio 3. Thank you. Kurt It’s a pleasure. You sing good. That sounded very. That sounded wonderful. So in other words, I chose the right career. You’re the right family or both? I guess the right DNA, maybe. See, I started hearing those things. It’s literally like maybe the first moment we ever met.

S36: But I sucked. Man, I thought that was. You did that? Well, I was I was thinking about myself. Oh, I was the guy. Like how fake he was. That introduction. I think I’ve learned how to fake sincerity in this course of this job. It’s the hardest thing to pay. It is the most important.

S71: Yeah, I heard. I thought I sounded a little nervous. You mean you were making me nervous? Sometimes you still make me nervous.

S32: Beyond simply being the only person I’ve hit friends with, of all the hundreds and hundreds of famous talented people who’ve been here, I counted up and realized that in the 20 years we’ve done this show, you hold the record for guest appearances on this program. I did not know the five. And then your husband here had his own sixth as well. So if you would count that added to your number or not.

S20: Now I’ll count it. I didn’t know that. Yes, very flattered.

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S72: Yeah, but you have led me and many millions of people to lots of places we would never have gone. And we’re the better for it. You know, you and noble me and all of your listeners by how curious you are.

S32: Oh, shucks. No, you do. I appreciate that. As I was also thinking about how do we end this thing? And I thought like, well, I can get a two for I can not only have the one friend I made off of the show come in, but also, if you would agree, sing a song and and bring your husband along to play it on the guitar. So now will you do that?

S20: Yeah. Talking about endings. Well, I’m honored that you asked me to do this. And what is this song? The song is The Parting Glass.

S71: The Celts, the Scots and the Irish have great ways of saying.

S73: I spent I have spent good money and I’ve done a whole class yet for those to me.

S74: Oh, I’ve done for tough wit to human being.

S75: Though I can’t recall.

S76: So feel to me the glass. Good night.

S77: The big give enough to spend and leisure time to sit.

S76: That is.

S73: In this town that had shown he has my heart.

S74: Her rosy cheeks, lips.

S76: She has my heart throb to me. Putting glass. Good night. Hand your beer, you.

S75: Huvelle. Conrad.

S76: They are still hungry. Go away and go home, sweetheart. Hey there.

S74: He wish me one more day to stay.

S73: But since it fell to my lot that I should run.

S76: And who should I choose to softly call? Good night. Should be.

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S78: Good night.

S76: And George higher-paying.

S79: Thank you for that gift. Thank you for the gift.

S18: That was Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal on guitar.

S50: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it today, Studio 360 has been a production of PR by Public Radio International recently in association with Slate. Our fabulous current production team consists of Jocelyn Gonzalez into Adam Newman. Sandra Lopez Oneside, Evan Chom, Zoe Saunders, Sam Kim Morgan Flannery, Tommy Busy area. And I am Kurt Andersen listeners. Thank you so much for listening today. And if you’d been along for the ride for these last thousand shows together. Now that’s a wrap. These are Public Radio International.