Culture Gabfest “We’re All Gonna Die” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. Welcome back to the Slate Culture Gabfest, We’re All Going to Die edition, it’s Wednesday, January 12th, 2022. I’m Isaac Butler in for Stephen Metcalf on this week’s show. Don’t Look Up is the new, I guess you’d call it satire from Adam McKay skewering our nation’s failures to meet the challenges of stopping climate change. It’s got an all star cast, including Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Rylance and Jennifer Lawrence. We’ll discuss the film and the response to it over the past month. Then Sidney Poitier. I mean, where do you even start in talking about the colossal achievements of the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor and a man who had such a profound impact on generations of actors, filmmakers and audiences will start by talking to film historian and friend of the program Mark Harris about Poitier legacy and finally Kathryn Schulz as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and she has a wonderful new memoir out called Lost & Found. We’ll be talking with her about the book and a recent excerpt from it How I Proposed to My Girlfriend, which appeared in last week’s New Yorker. I’m joined today by Julia Turner, the deputy managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. Julia. It has been a very long time since we’ve co-hosted this show together. How are you? How are things in Los Angeles?

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S2: Hi, Isaac, I’m so happy you’re here today. Things are hunky dory.

S1: Oh, great. And we are also, of course, joined by Slate’s film critic, Dana Stevens Dana. This is the point in the show where Stephen always asks you to recite the title and subtitle of your book almost like a religious litany. And so as his substitute, the duty now falls to me. What is your book called and what is its subtitle?

S3: The subtitle is the hard part. I can never remember all the sections of it. My book is called Cameraman Buster Keaton, The Dana Cinema and The Invention of the 20th Century, and it’s available for pre-order now, and it comes out in only two weeks, almost exactly two weeks and just a week before your upcoming book, and you now have to tell us that title.

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S1: Yes, it is called the method how the 20th century learned to act. And this is a perfect segue way to reminding listeners that Dana and I will be doing a joint book event at The Strand to discuss her book on Buster Keaton and my book on the method, and it will actually be a live episode of this very show hosted by Stephen Metcalf. So if you’d like to see our beautiful faces in person, please join us at The Strand in New York City on February 3rd from seven to eight p.m.. All right, shall we make a show? I’m ready. Don’t Look Up is the new star studded comedy from writer director Adam McKay. In it, scientists played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence discover that a comet large enough to end all life on Earth is set to hit our planet in six months. But as the clip we’re about to listen to makes clear, they meet immediate resistance from the president played by Meryl Streep and her cronies, who worry about the electoral impact of the comet and soon try to find ways to make money off of it instead of saving the planet. It’s all, of course, a big metaphor for how we’ve failed to respond to the threat of catastrophic climate change. Let’s listen to a clip.

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S4: So how certain is this? There’s 100 percent certainty of impact. Please don’t say 100 percent. So we just call it a potentially significant event. Yes, but it isn’t potentially going to happen. It is going to happen exactly ninety nine point seven eight percent to be exact. Oh, great. OK, so it’s not 100 percent. Well, scientists never like to say 100 percent. Call it 70 percent. And let’s just let’s move on. But it’s not even close to 70 percent. You cannot go around saying to people that there’s a 100 percent chance that they’re going to die. You know, it’s nuts. And we should get some of our scientists on this, you know, no offense, but you’re just two people that walked in here with Dr. Oglethorpe, Dr. Ogilvy. Yeah.

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S1: All right, Dana, you are our resident film critic, so let me ask you first, what did you make of this film? Did you like it?

S3: Gosh, this movie, OK? Well, first of all, I should say that the discourse about this movie, I think, has been probably and will continue to be more interesting than the movie itself. The fact that there is such division about it, there’s so much fighting about it on social media. The fact that the co-writers Adam McKay, who also the director, and David Sirota, former political adviser to Bernie Sanders, have been jumping on to social media to defend their movie against the mainly terrible reviews that it’s gotten. And there’s just been this whole meta discourse boiling around. Don’t look up that I think is more interesting than the actual movie, but since we are talking about the actual movie, this movie is a total mess. It takes forever to make its point. But this is a movie about which I will say if you question what role direction plays in a movie. Here’s an example of a movie that the worst thing about it is the direction. I mean, the choice of editing, the choice of framing the kind of coaching and coordination of the performances. I feel like this is a sort of a mismanaged airport where planes are taking off and landing and everything is sort of happening at once in a vague chaos. And I’m not sure that this movie is even sure how to accomplish what it is setting out to do. But what it is setting out to do is somewhat unusual and commendable, which is, you know, to have a really head on full frontal allegory about climate change that, you know, is quite literally Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in-your-face yelling into the camera with the conceit being that they’re yelling into a news camera as they appear on a new show. But really, they’re yelling at us about climate change. So it is this sort of attempt, I think, for Adam McKay to get out his anger, his rage and his sense of of urgency about this issue. But I think it is also a great example of why that is not a good way to make art, and it never really works or lands. And I’m very curious whether both of you had a similar reaction.

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S1: Yeah, I mean, for me, you know, I just feel like satire takes imagination, right? You have to create a sufficiently absurd scenario and then populate it with exaggeratedly flawed characters as a way of revealing some deeper truth about ourselves. And while this takes the tone of satire, it actually fails to do all of those things. All it does is take the Trump COVID response and then apply it to a made up situation as a way of illustrating what we’re doing about about climate change. So it just has this sort of obvious and repetitive feeling, especially since for what is purportedly supposed to be a comedy. It appears to entirely lack jokes, you know, like like, there are almost no jokes in the whole film, which I thought was was was frankly bizarre. Julia Did you also feel this negatively about the movie?

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S2: Weirdly, your critical responses are causing in me the stirrings of a defense.

S1: So, yes, bring it.

S3: So I was hoping it would happen. Yes.

S2: Let me attempt to mount one. I fear it may be a defense stirred by my own poor expectations, but you know, so I had heard that this movie was like a trainwreck. Six ways to Sunday, but this just seemed kind of fun in its vibrant badness. According to reports. And it was fun and it’s vibrant, badass, I thought. Or at least I thought it was really interesting and maybe not entirely successful, but a very different climate movie than, you know, the day after tomorrow or some of the ones that we’ve seen in the past. In that as makes sense, given Adam McKay’s previous efforts to explain the major fuck ups of modern society, right? He did the Big Short about the financial crisis. He did vice, which I think was much less successful about the Bush administration. But part of why this movie is so, uh, your metaphor of a poorly run airport is very, very good data. But part of why it feels like that is that it is trying to actually look not just up, but all around at the various cultural forces that leave us where we are totally unable to face this threat. Uh, I thought that the skewering of Jack and BRI, which The Morning Show hosts played by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as a particular. Evisceration of the media environment that allows us to take our eye off the ball was spot on. Cate Blanchett’s teeth, hair dresses, décolletage like chipper, brittle banter are all so great and Tyler Perry is a wonderful foil. I think they’re supposed to be kind of like a morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski kind of sassy banter vibe, and it works really well. I don’t know. I just thought it was like weirdly smart about the media environment. The political stuff feels like Idiocracy, except the less funny, because it’s just reality to your point about the COVID response. This movie was written before COVID. You know, like, this movie is an imagination of what the political response to a world threatening calamity would be. And lo. Here we are, you know?

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S1: Right? I mean, I mean, you know, it is not the movie’s fault that it is lapped by world events. I that. But you know, at the same time, it’s come out when it’s come out. Do you know what I mean? And and while I agree that the media skewering is probably the strongest part. Tyler Perry is actually quite wonderful in the film as as is Cate Blanchett. You know, there was just I just felt like I was being, you know, hit in the head over and over with with stuff. I felt kind of like I already knew, which was sort of my response to Vice as well. You know, like like it seemed to be saying, you know, you seem to be almost, you know, hectoring the viewer about about this stuff. But at the same time, it’s like, I already agree with it. So why are you hectoring me so much?

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S2: Well, but the problem with Vice was that it just believed that Dick Cheney was evil and loved being evil. Like it did not actually put forth a psychologically plausible explanation of why the Bush administration acted the way it acted in. You know, this movie has a smart line about the idea that the people in power, you know, you should that they’re not as smart as you think they are, and the conspiracy is not as complicated as you think it is. And that movie, that line almost felt like it was talking back to vice like vice was a kind of hyper inflated conspiratorial theory of the case of the Bush administration, which is that it was, uh, you know, Cheney remains this like cipher of maniacal evil at the core, which is just not a plausible way to think about history. And this movie seemed more emotionally sophisticated. It’s just what it’s showing us is a chaos we’re sick of, and it’s like a little too close to home, I think. I don’t know. I mean, I will also say I’m grading on a curve because there was a part of me that just looked at this and was like, Well, at least this is like about something and has some fun performances. And, you know, I’m probably the least, you know, Marvel Cinematic Universe bashing of the regulars on the show, but like it felt unpredictable if I was surprised by it, you know? Mm hmm.

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S3: Yeah, no. I kept being curious to see what happened next. But it was, but it was a little bit of a watching a train wreck unfold kind of curiosity. I think also that if this had been made, written and directed by someone who was new on the scene, not necessarily their first film, but you know, some young filmmaker who was trying to address climate change in this urgent way. But the fact that this is this veteran comedy director who’s made some of the great comedies of the 21st century and that he seems to be going down a little bit of a rabbit hole of madness with his last couple of movies. I mean, both Vice, the Dick Cheney biopic, right with Christian Bale. I mean, also a chaotic, crazy planes landing kind of movie that had things like, you know, ending credits that happened 40 minutes before the ending that were the fake ending credits. It was full of these kind of stunts and tricks and fake outs, which this movie also uses. We haven’t talked about them all yet, but you sort of never know when he’s going to cut away to something else, and you’ll randomly see, you know, people all over the Earth who are unrelated to the story. And I just felt all of that was so crudely and sloppily handled for a person who really has the tools to do something more sophisticated. And I mean, a general example I would give is that there’s this kind of image of the populace acting as one that happens over and over in this movie, and it becomes more and more embarrassing each time as a way of just understanding, you know, the way that that mass events are reacted to by huge populations of people. I mean, obviously, the age of social media, that is a very heterogeneous and chaotic reaction. But over and over again in this movie, we have these moments where suddenly people start coming out of bars and park, you know, getting out of parked cars and staring up at the sky and suddenly all believing in the comment. There’s a scene like that, right? Or or I don’t know who they’re the protagonist will be sitting in a bar talking about the comment, and suddenly the servers and the other patrons are all coming over to ask them questions. There’s this sort of condescending idea of the people in this movie, and they’re monolithic responses to things, whether they’re being mocked as kind of sheeple or they’re being seen as, you know, rising up as one that is just not. The way masses of people disagreeing about topics actually works.

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S1: Yeah, it did feel to me a little bit like a first draft in a bunch of different ways, you know, like it just felt like there were these long gaps where jokes were meant to go and maybe just put jokes, take or let people improvise or something. The, you know, sort of lack of unity around the performances was very strange. In particular, Mark Rylance, who’s normally a brilliant actor, delivers what I think is probably a career worst work in this film.

S5: Our new best fourteen point three phone is fully integrated into your every feeling and desire without you needing to say one single word. If I feel

S2: what the Mark Rylance performance is incredible. You think that’s a career worst performance? I was like, Yes, oh what? That’s like, Oh my God, I love just all.

S1: It’s all mannered. It’s just all a bunch of manners with no juice, no lifeblood or something. I just like, I just, oh, I found it so off-putting.

S2: Oh my god, I loved

S3: that he is like this

S2: oracle who believes he has power because he is smart but actually has power because he has money and did one smart thing a long time ago. And he just, I don’t know the like batty oracular evasiveness I would. I would watch like a whole sequel about about that character that in the tech world. And when he came on stage, I was like, Who is that like? I briefly thought it was Billy Crudup because of the face grooves and then was like, Oh my god, Mark Rylance. Perfect, beautiful. Wow, right? Dana split the vote.

S3: I mean, first of all, I liked Mark Rollins’s performance. I wouldn’t say that I wildly loved it, but I think he had one of the more interesting characters. I felt like his character was an expansion of the character he played in Ready Player One, a very bad movie that we also talked about on this show. But I would say something about all the performances, not just Mark Rylance, is that I think you as a director Isaac might identify with, which is that they just seem to be very poorly managed. And this goes back to the airport metaphor like I wouldn’t really laid it. Mark Rylance is feet or Meryl Streep’s feet, who also is sort of unremarkable as the president. Like, you would certainly never know that she was one of the great esteemed actresses of her generation from this kind of offhanded, casual performance that she gives is this sort of Trump like president or very Trump like president. But there are lots of good performers in this movie who like Leo DiCaprio, who don’t really seem to be given the right direction. There’s no guidance. It feels like a rehearsal. I don’t know how to describe it, but this goes back to me just sort of saying this really feels like it was very sloppily put together for being such a big budget movie with so many stars in it, it’s like a filmed rehearsal.

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S1: Well, Dana, we’ll have to let you have the last word there. We have two votes against and one vote for. Perhaps you want to check out the film yourself. That’s don’t look up. You can stream it on Netflix today. And then if you disagree with us, you can be like the filmmakers and yell at us on social media. OK, moving on. All right, now, we’ve come to the part of the show where we do the business Dana, what have you got for us?

S3: Isaac, our only item of business this week is just to tell you about today’s Slate Plus segment. It comes from a listener question, as a few of them have recently from a listener named Allan, who asks us quote in this era of remakes, reboots and reimaginings of old TV shows and movies, is there one old TV show or film you would want to see brought back? And if so, how would you update it? Also, what do you think makes for a successful remake, reboot or reimagining? This is a great and very timely question since we’ve been boiling a lot the the absolute domination of reboots and unoriginal IP at the box office. So we’re going to reboot some of our own IP in today’s Slate Plus segment. You can hear that, of course, if you’re a member of Slate’s membership program Slate Plus, if not, you can sign up today at Slate.com. Culture Plus. OK, what’s next, Isaac?

S1: Bahamian American actor, director and diplomat Sidney Poitier died last week at the age of 94. Over the course of a trailblazing, multi-decade career, Poitier absolutely transformed American filmmaking and in particular representations of black people on screen, and he was the first black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar in 1964. We are joined today by film historian and journalist Mark Harris to discuss Poitier career and legacy. Mark, thank you so much for joining us here on the culture Gabfest.

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S6: Thanks for having me.

S1: Ehrlich Mark Your classic book Pictures at a Revolution discusses Poitier and his career in depth. And one thing that you address both in that book and in the wonderful obituary you wrote of Poitier for Entertainment Weekly, is the very difficult minefield that he had to navigate to have the career that that he had in the mid 20th century. Can you talk a bit about that because his work goes through several different phases in response to a lot of different and in many ways, irreconcilable cultural pressures, right?

S6: Right. I mean, his work goes through phases. You know, you can say it’s in response to those changes, but sometimes the changes were even faster than could be reflected in the work that he was doing. I mean, when I was when I was working on pictures at a revolution, one of the challenges was that the period that covers, which is 1963 and in 1968, was a period of such rapid change, particularly in the area that we’re talking about representation of Black Americans onscreen. And what was expected of them by white audiences, by older audiences, by younger audiences, by black audiences. The degree to which the black audience was even recognized as a major demographic by Hollywood, which it really was not until around 1967, there was so much that Sidney Poitier was asked to navigate implicitly just in his choice of roles, and he was acutely aware of that, like before he ever stepped on screen. He knew that he would be judged for taking a particular part. And it was, you know, challenging and terribly constraining and and frustrating for him, I think. And just the fact that on the occasion of his passing, we’re able to talk about even a few of his performances rather than just his sort of pathbreaking barrier breaking cultural legacy is a testament to what he was able to accomplish. But but he really did face a great number of hurdles.

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S1: And you know, you mentioned as well that that he does have a number of truly brilliant performances that you know, so you can go out and stream right now. So, you know, if you sort of only know Poitier, maybe from sneakers of hits late in life, a film that I think Julia and I both think is a masterpiece or, you know, you sort of know him from his cultural reputation but haven’t actually delved into the work. Where would you start?

S6: I feel like I would start with in the heat of the night, honestly. You know, I don’t think you have to go chronologically with Sidney Poitier, and I think I think in the heat of the night is to me, an endlessly fascinating movie because he is playing this character. Virgil Tibbs, a detective from the North who finds himself sort of stranded in a small southern town right after a murder has happened. And it’s kind of the perfect Sidney Poitier meta textual performance because he is the the lone black man surrounded by all variously problematic white people who has to hold on to his integrity and his identity, and the fact that he’s smarter than all of them and control every feeling that he is having about what is happening around him in order to to do good to to to to help solve this murder, but also to survive and eventually get out of there. And and so you see in this performance what audiences in 1967 when the movie came out had already seen by then for 10 years or more in his performances, which is cool headedness, quiet control, you know, forbearance, patience with the fact that a lot of the people around him are bigoted or stupid or ignorant. But in the end, in the heat of the night for the first time, you also get to see it break down. You get to see him. Lash out a little bit and get angry, and it’s really hard to convey to audiences now how electrifying that was for people to see in 1967, I mean, people who were, you know, teenagers and saw that movie in theaters still remember what this the reaction of the audience to this pivotal scene where he’s slapped in the face by a white racist and he responds in kind? Was Mr. Colbert ever in this greenhouse? Say, last night about midnight? Gasps, the cheering, the laughter, the shock in that audience, that’s how unusual and unprecedented it was.

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S3: Yeah, there’s a great story in your in your book and pictures at a revolution Mark of Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier co-star in the movie and Poitier going to movies together and having this game where they would wait. They would try to figure out the composition, the racial composition of the audience by whether people were cheering or gasping when the when the slapping scene, the mutual slapping scene between a white and black man occurs, right?

S6: I mean, you can trace a whole lineage down from that movie through into something like, you know, Richard Pryor comedies of the 1970s and then Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte walking into a bar in 48 hours. Like those movies don’t happen without in the heat of the night. And those movie stars don’t happen without Sidney Poitier being the first one. But of course, because he was the first one and as he said, so often the only one that put terrible and really tragic constraints he felt on what he could allow himself to do on.

S3: Right. And as one example of that Mark the role that he won his first Oscar for and I believe the first acting Oscar ever given to a black actor was with lilies of the field, which, as you say in your tribute to Poitier is is really kind of a melodramatic and extremely hagiographic movie that makes him into that kind of saintly figure that he just starts to move away from within the heat of the night. I wondered if you could talk about that tendency, especially in the heat of the night, for him to take on only saintly roles and the fact that he himself said he didn’t want to play villains. There’s something that he said in a 1967 interview that you quote in your tribute to him that I’m just going to read about about that, about his refusal for many years to play bad guys in movies, he says it’s a choice, a clear choice. If the fabric of the society were different, I would scream to high heaven, to play villains and to deal with different images of negro life that would be more dimensional. But I’ll be damned if I do that at this stage of the game. So that’s from a 1967 interview when he is starting to move beyond that kind of characterization a bit. But I wonder if what you would have to say about that, that stage of his career, when he could essentially only play perfect men the

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S6: opposite of villain for a black actor in 1965 wasn’t hero, it was. It was either st or teaching tool for a set of white characters and for white audiences, you know, in movies like Lilies of the Field, for which he won his Oscar, where he’s he’s this almost Jesus like figure who comes along and helps, you know, a group of nuns in the desert or a movie like a patch of blue in 1965, where where he’s sort of the object in a racial parable about how a blind white woman can fall in love with him because she’s blind? And wouldn’t it be amazing if you know, to use the overused phrase if nobody saw color, you know the characters that he was given? The problem wasn’t that they were all good guys. It was that until very much later in his career, they weren’t fully realized, fully dimensional protagonists. And and so I think he was he was confronting his own strong beliefs about who he could and couldn’t play. But he was also confronting the reality of what was offered to him and and frankly, trying to avoid some minefields that he was very smart to avoid. I mean, I write about his performances in two big 1967 movies in the heat of the night and guess who’s coming to dinner? But he was almost in a third movie from that your doctor Doolittle, where he was thought to play a really horribly sort of racist conception of a kind of primitive king in Africa. And and so we when we look at his body of work, we have to also use as a yardstick the what what is invisible, which is the roles he turned down, the roles he was never offered, the terrible roles that he was smart enough to turn down the great parts that were never written because nobody was writing for a black leading man.

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S2: Can you just tell our listeners a little bit more about Poitier path and sort of how he came to be this this groundbreaker in this pioneer? Because, you know, we we all watched in the heat of the night just to have sort of a common text to be thinking about as we talk about his career and his legacy and it listening to you talk about his career, it’s so striking this sense of kind of control and deliberate decision making that’s constantly aware of the threat and potential threat and perceived threats around him feel like a metaphor for how he had to navigate his career along the way. But can you talk a little bit about how it was that he broke in and came to be the actor he became?

S6: Sure. Well, you know, by the time in the heat of the night came out in 1967, Poitier had worked very steadily in Hollywood for more than 15 years. He wasn’t any kind of an overnight star. He was very, very familiar to audiences. He had been around since this film. No Way Out, I think, was his first movie in 1950 and the Blackboard Jungle. I mean, he actually played a medical intern and then years later played a high school student. That was how how little Hollywood knew what to do with him. But but he had had, you know, a fairly steady, interesting upward trajectory. You know, he had gotten his first Oscar nomination in 1958 for the defiant ones opposite Tony Curtis, which was another kind of very well-intentioned, white liberal parable. It’s about two runaway convicts who are chained to each other, and it’s it’s sort of, if only if only black and white people could realize that they had to work together to survive that kind of movie. And and he had been in Porgy and Bess. He had been, as we’ve talked about, in Lilies of the Field, which was his second Oscar nomination and his win in 1963. So there was there was this kind of steady upward. You know, he was the one black star, the the black star that white audiences found really acceptable and the only black star that black audiences had. It’s not like there was anyone else for them to turn to. The number of black men who appeared in leading roles in Hollywood movies was really, really tiny. So what’s amazing is that during those 15 or 16 or 17 years, his presence did not precipitate the arrival of more black stars or of a greater variety of parts for black people. It sort of made it unnecessary in the minds of white Hollywood. It kind of took care of the whole obligation. No other talent had to be sought or developed because they had checked that box.

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S1: You have actually spoken to Sidney Poitier, something the rest of us have not done as far as I know. So can you tell me a bit about the phone conversation that that you had with him?

S6: I spoke to him very briefly for about 10 minutes. I had really chased him for a very long time for an interview, for pictures at a revolution, and I didn’t get it. I tried my best in that book to create as full a portrait as I could without that interview, and I was aided immeasurably by the fact that there there was a huge legacy of him doing interviews at every stage of his career. And also, he had written two autobiographies. But of course, I really wanted to talk to him and I played every card I had. I called in every favor I had. I can’t even I don’t even feel comfortable saying the names of the people I used to intercede on my behalf,

S3: the rungs on your ladder.

S6: But like, yeah, I mean, like, this is the one time in my career that I have like used. My husband used the people he knew ruthlessly used anyone I could agents, other movie stars, other directors to say, Please, you know, will you talk to him? And one of them was like a shockingly famous and powerful person called me back and said, Well, I don’t think I had any luck because I called Sidney and said, I will vouch for Mark Harris and Sidney paused and said, yes, but who will vouch for you?

S2: Oh my

S1: gosh.

S6: And so then he did agree to get on the phone and talk to me and. Of course, he could not have been lovelier and more gracious and more gentlemanly, and I explained to him the kind of book I was doing and what I was interested in. And, you know, he just very gently said that he he would not try to get in my way. But that just wasn’t a time in his life for a period in his life that he felt comfortable revisiting and that he felt he had said all that he had to say about it. But you know, it’s the very rare moment when getting turned down flat just gives you this wonderfully warm feeling. You know, I think I walked around in a daze for two days thinking, Oh, I talked to Sidney Poitier, and then maybe on the third day I was like, Oh, right, but I Lost. But it was. It was a pleasure to. It was a pleasure to go down to defeat at his hands. You know, he and I really understood it because, you know, he had had a terribly rough and condescending and nasty treatment from any number of journalists during the period that I was writing about. And if anyone was entitled to just to not trust me, frankly, he was,

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S1: well, Mark Harris. Thank you so much for joining us here on the Gabfest to talk about the life and legacy and work of the late, truly great Sidney Poitier.

S6: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: All right. Well, if you’ve never seen it in the heat of the night is streamable from any number of places. It’s a great movie, and if you’ve never read it, pictures at a revolution is truly one of the best books about Hollywood out there. Pick up a copy and read it today. All right, moving on. I asked my girlfriend to marry me on Ash Wednesday. It was an accident, not the asking, the timing. The asking have been on my mind for the better part of two years. So begins how I proposed to my girlfriend, a beautiful essay by Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker that is itself excerpted from her wonderful new memoir Lost & Found, which is out this week from Random House Kathryn. Thank you so much for joining us on the slate culture gabfest.

S7: I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

S1: So can you tell us a bit about the book? It’s a memoir. What is the story it’s telling and at what point in living through that story? Did you realize you wanted to write it as a book?

S7: It’s actually telling multiple stories. One of them is quite a sad one. It’s the story of losing my father and grieving him after his death in 2016, and the other one is the very joyful one. It’s a love story about my partner, who I met not long before my father died and married not long after he died. So those personal anecdotes anchor the book and certainly merited it the the title of memoir. But quite a lot of the book is about these larger categories of human experience about losing things not just loved ones, but that the whole range of things we could lose, you know, keys, cell phones, elections, a faith, a sense of ourselves. And then, conversely, about all the many wonderful kinds of things we find including, but not limited to love.

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S1: So what was your process like for, for for writing it? You’re obviously your training is as a journalist. That’s your your background. You’ve won a Pulitzer Prize in it. Was it did you do a lot of research for it over the course of imagining its kind of overall structure and writing it? I did a

S7: lot of research, you know, partly, I suppose one could unkindly call some of it procrastination. You know, it’s a lot easier to to read a bunch of wonderful books than to sit down and write your own. But I was actually quite new to memoir and in some ways, new even to to personal writing at all. I mean, I’ve done a little bit of it, but not much. And so I did feel some sense that I should sit down and acquaint myself or reacquaint myself with the genre. So I did a lot of reading. There was comparatively little research in the sense of kind of reporting or the other things I’m accustomed to doing as a journalist that went into this book. But not not at all. I had a lot of fun learning about a handful of stray topics that make their way into the book like, you know, meteorites and the history of how we set about searching for human beings when they go missing and things like that.

S3: Kathryn. This maybe comes out of what you were just saying about this being the most personal thing that you’ve written, certainly the most personal book you’ve written. I was just thinking about how both different and the same this book is from being wrong. Your first book, written quite a while ago now, 10 years ago or something like that, which is a highly reported book that more resembles, I think, your journalism for The New Yorker in that you know you’re you’re exploring a lot of different factual fields and bringing them together. But like this book, it’s animated by a very personal and passionate idea. And I guess this is a question about what kind of work you had to do as a writer to find this different voice that you find in this book, which is extremely personal and intimate in which you really you describe two of the most personal experiences and difficult to describe experiences a person can live through, which is losing a parent and falling in love. How did you free yourself to do this kind of writing?

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S7: The truth is it interestingly did not feel that different to me from writing my reported pieces. I guess I always feel incredibly passionate and personal about what I’m writing, even if there’s no first person in it. Um, so the the work of putting the book together, you know, was different because, as you say, there wasn’t a lot of reporting. But when it came to sit down and write, I don’t know, I think there’s just there’s a voice in your head, or maybe there’s a lot of voices in your head. And in some cases, you know, love stories, grief stories. We we tell ourselves those. I don’t want to sound like Old Joan Didion here, but but we tell ourselves those, whether or not we’re writing them down, right? We were always rehearsing our love story in some senses because people say things like, Well, how did you guys meet, you know, or you derive, I think I think whenever you’re in love, you derive real delight in talking about how it came to be. And of course, when someone dies, we we mourn them in part by eulogizing them formally and in our day to day life. So the conversation about these intimate experiences is already happening kind of in my head and around me. And it did not feel like that drastic of a of a shift to just sit down and put it on paper.

S2: I’m curious to hear sort of how much writing was a way of processing these big emotional experiences for you, or how much writing was a way to try to capture what you had already processed outside of writing. You know, I think our listeners know I lost my father this year and also had a baby within the span of five weeks, and so although it’s a different joy bomb than finding love, I can certainly relate to the feeling of great sadness and great wonderment at the same time. And Steve and I actually were talking a couple of weeks ago about writing sort of a push toward writing as a way of thinking about loss and experiencing loss. But I’m curious sort of how much of it was a daring thing and how much of it was OK, I’ve figured something out thing.

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S7: Well, I would have said it was all kind of an after the fact thing. But in retrospect, I think it was kind of a conveniently in the middle that a pause to think, which is to say I didn’t feel while writing this that I was writing it as an act of catharsis. I felt that I knew how I felt about my father’s death and had moved through a lot of the kind of most intense early grief. By the time I sat down to do it, and it felt it felt much more like, OK, I’ve had the emotional process, and now I have to go through the intellectual process of figuring out how I can best communicate this to readers and do so in ways that do help explore these other categories that are these larger categories that are interest to me. And the same thing with my love story. I mean, the love stories, of course, ongoing. But I it felt like it felt mostly like a writing challenge, not like an emotional challenge. In fact, the love story was emotionally quite delightful to write. But you know, it’s funny. I finished this book before I to have a new baby and I finish this book before she was born and Julia. I’m sure you’ve experienced this very acutely, but my baby is a source of just constant, constant joy to me. But I was really I really got the breath knocked out of me by how intensely I experienced sorrow about the fact that my father will never get to meet her and she will never know her grandfather. So I don’t mean to suggest that all the emotional work was done because of course, it just comes back and comes back, right? Life life confronts you once again with loss and all these new and surprising ways. But but no, in terms of getting the book on the page, it felt quite a lot like most other writing, which is just, you know, writing is often hard and figuring out what goes, where is hard and figuring out what’s you know, doesn’t need to be in there at all after you’ve written 10000 words about it. It mostly felt like very familiar kinds of writing challenges

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S3: as long as you’re talking about what goes where. I’m very curious about how you decided to structure this book because it’s not chronological, which is interesting. These two experiences that you’re writing about actually overlapped meeting your girlfriend, now wife and losing your father so that they did get to meet each other. I believe there were 18 months that he was alive, that you were with her. Is that right?

S7: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

S3: But yet you start the story with him and even with his parents story and really eulogize your father beautifully. And by the way, the character portrait of him that emerges is so precise and so intense that it makes me feel like I have met him and I wish that I had. But you really don’t introduce the love story until after you’ve told your father’s story, and then they, you know, sort of falls back on each other. And I wonder, what was the thinking in structuring it temporally in that way?

S7: Well, first of all, I’m just so happy to hear that you feel like you met my father. There’s almost nothing I would rather hear from a reader about their reaction to this book. Yeah, structure. As I said, strangely, I understood the structure of this book from the very beginning. It’s in for for people having picked it up. Yet it’s it’s written in three parts. It’s called Lost & Found and the three parts are Lost & Found. And and and I knew I knew right away I had to tell the grief story first, the Lost section, partly because I actually do. Without sounding hopelessly corny, I believe in redemption and I believe in joy, and the book obviously moves kind of past joy into this point about the connections, the inevitable connections between our joy and our sorrow and our love and our grief. But I knew I wanted the story of falling in love to come after the story of my father’s death, partly to see readers or to let readers see the experience of moving beyond great sorrow and remembering that joy is always kind of lurking out there somewhere, hopefully. So that was obvious to me. It did have a kind of wonderful side effect, which is, you’re right, right? The story is not told strictly chronologically. And in order to tell the story of falling in love with my partner, I actually had to take us back in time to before my father had died, which turned out to be kind of a great experience in the sense that I kind of briefly got to bring him back to life in this book. You know, we literally watch him die and then and then he shows up again so that he does meet my partner, you know, and we got kind of one cycle of life together, you know, 18 months is pretty much, you know, one birthday, one anniversary, you know, one Hanukkah, one two years. And. And so it was it was sweet to me to have him reappear in the pages and have the two of them kind of meet on the page in that way.

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S1: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. You know, Kathryn. One of the things that it strikes me is this story is so personal, but it is not, of course, only your story, right? It’s the story of so many of your loved ones, including your wife, you’re your family, you know? How did you kind of navigate that, that aspect of it of, you know, you’re taking these very private things that involve these other people and sort of moving them into the public realm?

S7: Well, you know, it’s very funny. You’re right about the nature of the book. Obviously, I did the first book of that last night and someone asked me, you know, is this actually a memoir? Like, The truth is, you’re not in it nearly as much as these other people that are writing about it, which is astute and correct. You know, I I ostensibly am writing about myself, but mostly I’m writing about my partner and my father and both of their families. And, you know, it was interesting heading into it. I never meant to write a memoir. My partner certainly did not regard me as a memoirist when we met, and she is in fact, much more private person than I am. And it is greatly to her credit that she championed this book from from the moment it was an idea to, you know, today when it’s emerging into the world with her, you know, much of her life and her family’s life in it for all the world to see. Right. I feel really lucky. You know, I when I went to, you know, when you sell a book, you kind of go and shop it around. All these publishers try to find someone to buy it. And one of those publishers asked me this kind of roundabout way. But but ultimately, what they were asking was like, Well, if we publish this book, how likely is it that we’re going to get sued by someone in it? And I was very relieved to be able to say, No, no, there’s there’s no one litigious involved in this story. So I didn’t have to worry very much about the kinds of of troubling family dynamics that I think a lot of memoirs that are grappling with, you know, trauma or family dysfunction have to, I’m happy to say. I think everyone in the book is is pleased to be in it and pleased with it.

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S3: Kathryn Can I just tell you a small way that your book has changed me in a couple of months since I’ve read it? I think you’ll appreciate this because it’s a tribute to your father. And I think you remember this story when I was reading your book and an advance reader copy back at the end of the summer, I lost the book and I was right in the middle of it and so excited to be reading it. I was probably on Page 50. And and then I went on a trip and left it on a bus or something like that, and I had to write to the publisher again and get a second book. And you and I were having a joking exchange about that, and I was saying how appropriate to lose Lost & Found. The entire beginning of which is about, as you say, losing objects, losing people, what it means to to not be able to find something and a way that your book has changed me is that you describe really wonderfully how your father, although he was an inveterate loser of objects, didn’t really care that much and had this kind of wonderful nonchalance about losing things and just assumed, well, it’ll show up if I need it. And if not, you know, I guess I didn’t need it in the first place. And so since reading your book, I have tried to imitate your dad and blame myself less for my constant distraction and loss of all of my objects. And basically, if something’s replaceable, you replace it. If not, it’s gone.

S7: Well, he would be very pleased that his kind of nonchalant attitude was contagious like that. And it does seem to me like, you know, part of part of what the book is trying to help us figure out is how to let go of these more trivial losses that there’s there’s nothing to be done about, except call the publisher and ask for a new copy. But Dana, I should also say he loved your work, so he’d be specifically thrilled that you love the wonderful head of a reaction to him as a character.

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S3: That’s so, so touching to hear. Wow, thank you.

S1: Well, we are so grateful to you for coming on the show and so pleased that you have been our guest this week. Listeners, you should not be nonchalant about Lost & Found from out this week from Penguin Random House. You should definitely pick up a copy and let us know what you think. Kathryn Schulz Thank you so much once again. For joining us.

S7: Thanks so much for having this total pleasure.

S1: All right, moving on. All right, now, we’ve come to the part of the program where we share our endorsements Dana what have you got?

S3: Isaac, listeners who follow me on Twitter may have already heard me raving about my endorsement this week, which is David Ehrlich VIDEO Countdown of the Best Films of 2021. Is this a tradition that either of you are familiar with David Ehrlich montages of end of year montage of the movies before they’re so wonderful? This is the thing he’s been doing is on Vimeo this year. I don’t know where he usually puts them, but for many years now, at least, I don’t know five years that I can remember going back. David Ehrlich, who is the film critic at Indiewire, one of the critics at Indiewire, makes a video montage of what he considers the 25 best movies of the year, and it is always, always a total delight and a joy. It usually drops sometime near the beginning of the year. It just dropped this week, and it’s just always a magnificent job of editing. Really funny, witty, beautiful music choices, often very moving passages. It’s hard to describe, but he puts the movies of the year together in a way that they sort of tell stories. So he’ll sort of put together, you know, scenes of people running or, you know, moments of a character weeping or of giving birth, or the sort of thematic threads that connect the films. He just always manages to make it into this really soaring document that makes you want to see every single movie in the countdown. And even though I’m a film critic and have usually seen the majority of them, I always come away from these montages with a scribble down list of a few titles that I haven’t caught and really want to see. It’s just really, really fun, and it’s a great tradition of the year. It always sort of feels to me like it’s sort of like the King’s Day marks the end of the Christmas season, right the right day of kings or whatever it’s called. The sort of marks the end of the movie year to me when David Ehrlich montage drops. So we’ll put a link to that on our show page. And you should also, if you’re interested in movies, follow David Ehrlich on Twitter. Because he’s he’s always a fun follow.

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S1: That’s great. That’s great. So Julia, what have you got for us this week?

S2: Today, my endorsement is Lego, a specific Lego set number one zero two eight zero. This is the Lego flower Bouquet. It’s part of the Lego Ideas collection, which is, I think is basically like Legos for grown ups is maybe the best way to summarize it. They have like an elaborate, like mechanical typewriters that they have all kinds of interesting ones. But uh, with this Lego flower Bouquet you can build and actually like slightly beautiful, uh, bunch of flowers. And if you are someone who has assisted your children or yourself with lots of Lego builds over the years, you will be impressed by the very creative uses of Lego parts to make quite realistic flowers. There some roses, there’s some kind of foxglove looking things. There’s some Aster’s. There’s a California poppy. Um, but the construction makes very creative use of Lego pieces. There are crowns that are used to make sort of a bit of thorny bramble. There are surfboards that are used to make sort of the tip of some fronds and most notably the car hoods in a kind of dusty rose become the expanding petals of a sort of peony rose type flower. Anyway, it’s a really nifty bit of Lego design. Built it with my children. It was super fun. Now it’s on my desk and I don’t have to add water to it. Actually, I did have to put water in the base to keep it from tipping over because all those car hoods are slightly top heavy in the vase. I found that made it look lovely, but you don’t have to change the water in it very often. So that is Lego Flower Bouquet one two two eight zero eight 756 piece kit from Lego.

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S1: That’s amazing. Julia I’m glad you told us where it is because I always feel like when I’m done assembling a Lego thing with Iris, the next question is like, Well, now what do I do with it? Which is often she plays with her and then destroys it and then I have to rebuild it.

S2: Yeah, we have like a whole cupboard of like Ninjago temples and discarded dragons and half assembled Lego Trevi fountains that we are going to move in a few weeks. And I’m wondering

S1: whether they’ll make

S2: it whether whether the mini Legos. So we’ll see.

S1: Well, I thought I would hit us with a Sidney Poitier related endorsement this week, which is for Percival Everett’s novel I am not Sidney Poitier. It’s a sort of indescribable road trip comedy about sort of what it’s like to live under the legacy of Sidney Poitier and his film work. But the way it does this is it’s about a young man who looks exactly like Sidney Poitier and whose name is not Sidney Poitier and is the adopted son of Ted Turner. And he goes on this kind of, you know, buildings Roman throughout the United States to find himself. But he. Keeps finding himself trapped in the plots of various Sidney Poitier movies, although you don’t actually need to know the plots of those movies to to enjoy the book, I did not the first time I read it. It’s very funny. It’s very strange. If you like the work of Charles Portis, for example, you’ll really dig it. Percival Everts, a really wonderful, prolific and fascinating writer and I am not Sidney Poitier, is one of his funniest books, so that’s what I’m going to recommend this week.

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S3: That sounds fantastic. Oh, I’ve been scribbling it down right now.

S2: That’s a book that it sounds like you dreamed. So I’m I’m delighted that it’s real.

S1: It does sort of sound like you were eating some spicy nachos while watching a Poitier marathon on TCM and then passed out. And then that was the dream, right?

S3: Yes, exactly.

S1: You can find links to some of the things we talked about today on our show page at Slate.com. Culturefest if you have feedback for us or ideas for topics to discuss on the show, please send us an email at Culturefest at Slate.com. Our intro music is by the brilliant composer Nicholas Britell, who also did the really great score for Don’t Look Up. Our production assistant is Nadira Goffe. Our producer is Cameron Dru’s for Dana Stevens and Julia Turner. I’m Isaac Butler. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you soon.

S2: And alone, welcome to this salad plus segment of the slate culture gabfest to day. We have a question from a listener in this era of remakes, reboots and reimaginings of old TV shows and movies. Is there one old TV show or film you would want to see brought back? And if so, how would you update it? Also, what do you think makes for a successful remake, reboot or reimagining? Uh, which of you wants to go first here, Isaac? You’ve been host all day. Let’s give you the chair first. What what have you got for our listeners here?

S1: So I should say that for the most part, I think the kind of redux of TV shows have been pretty unsuccessful artistically, at least the ones that I’ve seen. So I’m wary of remaking or bringing back a TV show. But I have to say, you know, a show that’s near and dear to my heart that I’ve seen many times and that I miss and I I just have a hankering for is the Canadian television show Slings and Arrows about a a Shakespeare company in Canada. And, you know, every season revolves around a Shakespeare play. And then also their personal foibles, which of course, mirror whatever the situation is in that play. It actually has a wonderful third season that feels very final. But who cares? Nothing’s final anymore, right? And if they brought it back, I feel like I have a smart way to do it because, you know, the cast as much older now and there’s too late in life Shakespeare plays they could use. I feel like they could either do the tempest, and it could be about the the the various characters contemplating their retirement as the Tempest contemplates Shakespeare’s retirement. Or they could do Winter’s Tale because the core couple of the show, Jeffrey and Ellen, have this kind of stormy, wonderfully complicated relationship. And if you did The Winter’s Tale, you know you could make it about Jeffrey suddenly finding himself jealous of Ellen and perhaps a young suitor and not knowing quite what to do with that. So I think that would be a lot of fun. But at the same time, I’m always wary, you know, I’m always wary because I feel like these remakes, they often go, go south. I feel like, I don’t know. Do do you all like remakes? Do you feel like they they tend to work out or what makes for a good one?

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S3: I think you’re right that TV is a less lucky place for remakes than than film is. I mean, you know, not that that remake fever hasn’t caused some some real bombs in the film industry as well. But I mean, obviously, some of the greatest films of all time are remakes of earlier films. And you know, the idea that a property can only be made once I think in any medium is incorrect. But why is it exactly that on TV? It tends to work out worse. I kind of agree with you. As for slings and arrows, that is a completely great call. As long as it’s the exact same cast, I think it would be so sad to see any of those characters cast as anyone else. But if you could get all those actors at the age they are now and for example, The Tempest, I think it’s an incredible idea to cast them in. I would love it. I think I’ve endured slings and arrows before on this show. I think it’s one of the great TV shows of all time. So sure, bring us more slings and arrows, but that’s not quite a reboot. I think the hard question is like, what have you had to lose that cast of characters, right? I mean, the cast of actors and and have the same characters played by others. My suggestion for remaking a TV show had more to do with the timeliness of the show and a sort of idea that was ready for an update. I’m not exactly sure how it could be done, and it could be a recipe for disaster. But when I thought about what is a show, an influential show from the past that could have something new to say in 2022, one that I thought it was all in the family, which is a, you know, obliquely related to our conversation actually about in the heat of the night. Because the the in the heat of the night television series adapted from the movies starred Carroll O’Connor in the Rod Steiger role right in in a role not dissimilar from Archie Bunker, but more dramatic and more serious. But I think given the extremely divisive state of the political discussion in the U.S. right now, the idea of there being a family with the sort of red state dad and a blue state, the daughter and son in law, living with him in some sort of intergenerational conflict about, you know, what would now be construed, I guess, as wokeness could make for a very hot-button comedy. Obviously, it would have to have a lot of updating. And you know, you’d have to be careful to make the comedy not seem like it was about an adorable racist. But I think that the original all in the family handled that conflict extremely well. I mean, obviously it would now read as somewhat dated, but it was a radical sitcom in its time. And I just remember it being on and me being too young to quite understand it, but understanding that it was touching on hot-button issues for adults and doing that in a mainstream way on network television and in a way that it reached lots and lots of people who might have identified more with Archie Bunker than with, you know, the son in law, played by Rob Reiner, who he was always fighting with. So I don’t know if you guys are familiar with all in the family or not, I. Haven’t even seen more than probably 10 episodes of it as an adult. But but it just seems to me like a show that with the right really, really smart casting choices and and writing could could have something new to say.

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S1: Can it? Can I say one thing off of this? Because it did remind me of a I met Norman Lear once at a like a conference, and I was talking to him about a show of his I would love to see brought back the very bizarre. It would almost take the rest of the segment. Time to explain Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, which is a very strange parody of soap operas, but it had a spin off fake. Tonight Show, hosted by Martin Mull called Fernwood Tonight that took place in the fictional town, and I asked Norman Lear if they were ever going to bring back Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman or whatever. He said that he had been talking to Martin Mull. This was years ago. So clearly it’s not happening about bringing back Fernwood tonight, this fake talk show they had. And that would be pretty great, huh?

S3: I mean, Norman Lear is still around. He could bring back both of those shows if he.

S1: Exactly. If you’re listening, Mr. Lear, we have some work for you.

S2: And they have done those live reenactments of original all in the family episode has been sort of the closest they’ve come in recent years. Interesting. All right. I’m not sure I buy that TV doesn’t work as well as film. I feel like those are assertions slightly without example, although my rebuttal is also without counterexamples. So I’m just going to register it for the listeners. But I want to first confess that I have actually been watching the reboot of Sex and the City, which I know you all discussed because I don’t discuss HBO stuff on the show. And I agreed with the early verdicts that the first few episodes were cringy. But I actually think that it’s. Re inflated back into what the show was in a slightly older and wiser way and has some of the old shows charms in terms of its its realistic examine of friendships that feel real. So I think that one has earned its claim upon our attention in a way that the first couple of episodes didn’t necessarily seem promising about. But in general, I would prefer to not see things rebooted unless it feels like there’s unfinished business, like when a show resolves itself and you know, it feels like it achieves a satisfying conclusion. There doesn’t really seem to be that much need to go back to it, but I was very excited to learn about the reanimation of Party Down, which is a show and untimely killed in its cradle. Uh, and um, you know, it’ll be interesting to see what they do there. The structure of that show, where is that? It’s a catering company who have a series of personal and professional ambitions and disappointments as they cater a different party each episode, and it just had wonderful wit. Great show. Totally worth going back to watch, but I didn’t go back to watch it for a long time because there’s only two seasons and it sort of felt like, well, I even fell in love with it if it’s just going to break my heart pounding too soon. So I think there’s the like letting a show finish itself that didn’t get to properly finish itself because of the economics of TV in a prior era with film. Film feels like less reputable to me because the best films are sort of about their moment in a in a certain way, it feels, or they feel like discrete responses to a particular moment, rather than creations of characters who are intended to move through time. So why wouldn’t they move through more time and meet you in the time where you are currently watching the reboot? You know, like if you look, if I think of my favorite movies like I don’t want it like network was so prescient, but I don’t want them to make network again now. It’s like they should make something about the media moment that is as smart as network, but you wouldn’t want to remake it. You know, even sneakers, which Isaac mentioned in, which does have a wonderful lead Sidney Poitier performance. Like, I don’t know the beauty, the glory, the charm, the particular like 90s post-Cold War, pre, whatever the hell this is, vibe of it. Like, yeah, it wouldn’t make sense to do it now. So I sort of, uh, I guess I’ve now put a little more meat on the bones of my only reboot TV. Never reboot film rejoinder. So. So I guess maybe I would throw back to you guys. Like, what are the film reboots that you’re so stoked on?

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S3: I mean, the one that came to my mind when you were talking about this is a star is born. The 1954 star is born with Judy Garland and James Mason, which is one of my probably in my top ten favorite movies of all time, which is a remake which was then remade twice. And in my opinion, the really recent one with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is a really, really good movie. So it’s that’s a property. I mean, it has a mythic sort of fairy tale quality that story that can obviously transpose historically more than something like sneakers that’s dependent on a certain moment in technological history. But that’s an example of, you know, I think, a story that still has life in it. Maybe it’ll still be rebooted in a in a worthy fashion someday.

S1: Mm hmm. Yeah. Or, you know, the Coen Brothers True Grit, I think is a is a is a good example, which although those are both based on a novel, it is. It is heavily, heavily based on the screenplay of the of the original the The John, the film that starred John Wayne. I do often think that movies based on books like you get multiple movies based on the same book. You often get some interesting results, you know, like the two versions of Mildred Pierce, right? Though the the original noir film and then the the miniseries from Todd Haimes. So, you know, like, I’m trying to think of other remakes, Oh, there’s

S3: imitation of life. Douglas Imitation of Life is a remake of it. Good, but not nearly as brilliant film.

S1: The second man who knew too much, I think is far superior to the first man who knew too much.

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S3: Um, and that’s a direct a director make remaking their own film, which is an interesting phenomenon. Not that common.

S1: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

S2: All right. All right. I’m happily rebutted, happily rebutted.

S1: It’s fine. I’m just saying I would put those up against, you know, the new seasons of Arrested Development or Twin Peaks, the return or any of those, those others any day. And I think it would. I think I would win.

S2: Well, the Arrested Development one is your stacking the deck there? I yeah, I mean, I guess the one thing I think about this is that people do sort of respond in horror to these as sort of why can’t Hollywood do anything new? But obviously, if you look back to the hunt for juicy and plausible IP has actually been around for much longer than the Marvel verse. And that’s not to say that the. Particulars of our own moment and its attitudes toward production aren’t unique in certain senses, but it’s not like Hollywood just ran out of ideas and invented the reboot 12 years ago. So it’s it’s worth remembering, right?

S1: Nor is Hollywood the first place where we’ve had a culture of making and remaking the same stories over and over again. That’s that’s a long standing artistic practice that’s produced some really wonderful work, including, you know, King Lear. So it’s not remaking is not in itself a negative. It’s it’s what you do with it. I think that that really matters.

S3: That was that that was the card in your pocket the whole time Isaac Shakespeare just slapped that man on the table room remakes.

S1: But now, I mean, we’re having our second Macbeth in like five years, right? When was the when was the Macbeth? With Michael Fassbender whispering the whole time that was like

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S3: five years ago? He’d been much more than five years ago.

S1: Yeah, we have the wonderful Joel Coen film.

S3: Oh, would you have to come on this show and talk about with us soon?

S1: OK, I’d love to know.

S2: That’ll be great. Yeah, I mean, I gosh, you’re reminding me that like my early experiences with Shakespeare, we’re going to see performances at the R t in Cambridge as a kid and being, you know, like every year was like a different one. Like it’s 60s London and blah play is happening. And it seemed exciting and delightful to me. So I think we can conclude this late plus segment by saying we’re strongly pro reboot. Like any form of art, it can be glorious or horrible. Have Adam Hollywood and creators elsewhere. And thank you so much, Slate plus listeners for supporting Slate and for listening to our show. Thank you so much, Isaac, for stepping into Steve’s shoes today. You did marvelously and thank you, Dana. As always, we will see you all next week.