She comes from a famous musical family. And she’s always felt like she was number 4 on the totem pole behind her brother Rufus, her father Loudon Wainwright III and her mother Kate McGarrigle. These days Martha has come into her own, talking about her life in a memoir called Stories I Might Regret Telling You. There are tales about her parent’s divorce and Martha’s wild days as a druggie, drinker and party goer. She also talks about how she got comfortable in her own skin and how much she loves being the mother of two boys. In a conversation that’s honest, funny and raw Martha Wainwright bares all. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Lucy Little and Jullian Androkae. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Tig Notaro had been doing stand-up for more than 10 years when she got up on stage in 2012, grabbed the mic and began her set with these words: “Hello, Good evening. Hello. I have cancer.” Many critics called the set historic and ground breaking. When it was released as an album called “Live” it shot to number 1 on the comedy charts. in her Netflix special “Boyish Girl Interrupted” Tig went further. She unbuttoned her white shirt, sharing her mastectomy scars with the audience. Now she’s married and has twin boys and remains an unusual comedian. You’ll find out more about what makes Tig Notaro tick. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Lucy little and Julian Androkae. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Bruce Jackson grew up in a public housing project in Manhattan and got arrested when he was 10. Some of his friends became drug dealers but Jackson went on to become the first person in his family to go to college. After earning a law degree from Georgetown, Jackson represented hip hop figures like LL Cool J, Heavy D and Busta Rhymes before leaving music behind to take a high-powered corporate job at Microsoft. We talk about Jackson’s book Never Far from Home and what it means to grow up African American and poor in New York City, striving to grab the brass ring on the carousel that means you’ve arrived. “Now What?” is produced with help from Steve Zimmer, James Napoli and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
When the U.S. was hit by the Covid 19 pandemic, President Trump often praised unproven treatments. While trying not to contradict Donald Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top infectious disease experts in the country, became a calming presence, advocating practical remedies like social distancing. He also became the target of right-wing conspiracy theorists who sent him death threats. I talk to Dr. Fauci about his role in developing treatments for once-fatal diseases like AIDS and how his life changed in the challenging years of the Trump administration. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Andreea Coscai and James Napoli. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Judy Woodruff got her start in the news business at a time when you didn’t see many women on the air. Her first job was getting coffee for her bosses at a local TV station in Atlanta. That was nearly 50 years ago and she’s covered Presidents and crises ever since. She’s also spent the last decade as an anchor on the PBS NewsHour. No happy talk, no screaming and yelling. She’s even been parodied on Saturday Night Live. We talk about how she’s handled tragedy in her life and we laugh about the good times, too. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Dani Shapiro is a writer who is very interested in family secrets. After Shapiro sent a sample of her saliva to a DNA company to find out more about her heritage, the results that came back rocked her world. Shapiro discovered that the man she spent her life calling dad was not her biological father. We talk about identity, what we hide from one another and the family secrets in Shapiro’s new novel Signal Fires. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Welcome to 2023. It’s a good time to take a fresh look at who we are and how we might want to change. Dr. Mark Epstein is a psychiatrist and a Buddhist. In his new book, The Zen of Therapy, Epstein writes about how he uses his spiritual beliefs to help his patients understand the importance of their own personal and unique stories. We talk about the need to laugh at ourselves and how to feel comfortable in our own skin. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
She’s been called one of the most beautiful women in the world. Paulina Porizkova also had what many considered a fairy tale marriage to Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek. But after Ocasek died in 2019, the former supermodel found she’d been cut out of his will. Porizkova writes about that in No Filter: The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful. We talk about what it takes to recover from grief and heal from a deep sense of betrayal. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Lucy Sante is the award-winning author of numerous books. Her latest, Nineteen Reservoirs tells the story of the massive and disruptive project undertaken to bring a clean water supply to New York City. While Lucy was writing the book, she was also going through a major change in her own life. Named Luke at birth, at the age of 66, Sante decided to do something she had thought about all her life: transition to a woman. We talk about the complexities of gender and identity. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
If you’ve seen the Netflix documentary Orgasm Inc. you’ve been introduced to One Taste Founder Nicole Daedone who created a company dedicated to spreading the word about a practice called orgasmic meditation. OneTaste closed its doors after a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article included complaints of sexual assaults and financial improprieties. Daaedone is at the heart of much of the controversy. In an exclusive conversation, I spoke with Daedone about who she is, what went wrong and whether she’s a visionary or a villain. I’ll let you decide. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Andreea Coscai and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Woodstock, New York is famous for the music festival that actually didn’t take place there. It’s also known for famous musicians like Bob Dylan who once lived there and for its writers like Larry Beinhart who wrote the political satire American Hero. The film Wag the Dog is based on Beinhart’s book. Beinhart has also written a mystery series featuring the private detective Tony Casella. Much of the action in his latest book called The Deal Goes Down takes place in Woodstock where Casella lives and agrees to become a killer for hire. I talk to Larry Beinhart about movies, money and morality. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Andreea Coscai, Alex Wolfe and Justin Foy. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Constance Wu first gained attention playing a tiger mom on the TV series Fresh Off the Boat. While she was in the series, Wu was cast in a movie called Crazy Rich Asians, a critical and commercial success that made Wu a movie star. But then she made a mistake. She tweeted about how disappointed she was that Fresh off the Boat had been renewed. The backlash was swift with fans calling Wu spoiled and ungrateful. I talk to Constance Wu about the perils of social media and lessons learned. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Andreea Coscai and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
The midterms are right around the corner. With politics in the air I found a couple of interesting people to shoot the breeze with about where we’re heading. Brad Tusk is a political consultant and venture capitalist who helped a company called Uber gain a foothold in New York and became very rich as a result. Tusk has opened a book store called P&T Knitware on the lower east side of Manhattan. You’ll also hear from California Congressman Adam Schiff who’s running for re-election. Schiff, who is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee led the first impeachment of Donald Trump. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Pa. Lt. Governor John Fetterman is running for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania against Dr. Mehmet Oz. He’s a most unusual politician. Fetterman is 6 feet 8 inches tall. He’s got a row of tattoos on his right arm that memorialize the dates that people were killed by gun violence in Braddock, Pa during the 13 years that Fetterman was Mayor. He’s also known for campaigning in shorts and hoodies and he’s got a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School. I sat down with John Fetterman in 2019 to talk about his appeal to working people and his interest in recreational marijuana. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Andreea Coscai. Audio production is by Nick CIavatta.
What does it take to create a work of art with another person? Talent, inspiration, hard work. But the most important part of the equation may be whether the creators hit it off and find themselves on the same wavelength. James Lapine found his best collaborator in Stephen Sondheim, one of the greatest theater composers ever. Their first work together turned out to be a Broadway show called Sunday in the Park with George. They went on to create Into the Woods and Passion. I talk to James Lapine about his relationship with Sondheim, who died suddenly last year, and the art of thinking outside the box. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoiem and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
When people ask me who are the most interesting characters I’ve ever talked to for “Now What?” I always think of the Irish actor Gabriel Byrne. Byrne has been in many iconic movies including Miller’s Crossing and The Usual Suspects. He also played the brooding psychiatrist in the series In Treatment and became a heartthrob at the age of 59. He’s now performing in a stage version of his memoir Walking with Ghosts. This is a beautifully written piece in which Byrne talks about the years he spent as a thief and his calling to be a priest. I spoke to Gabriel Byrne for an episode that was first posted in March 2021. “Now What?” is produced with help from Steve Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
This is a special episode. It’s about my brother-in-law Joel Zimmer who was diagnosed with back of the tongue and tonsil cancer caused by the HPV virus. If you were to tell people that there’s a form of cancer that’s sexually transmitted they’d probably look at you as if you’re crazy. But there is and cases are on the rise. HPV now causes most of the throat and mouth cancers found in men. You’ll hear from Joel, oncologists, sex experts and President Joe Biden, whom I interviewed in Washington, D.C. about his family’s own experience with cancer. Thank you to Offscrip Health for allowing me to share “Silent Cancer” on “Now What?” “Silent Cancer” was produced with the help of Mary Rose Madden and Nick Ciavatta.
His breakthrough movie was Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, the buddy film where the stoners ride a cheetah in New Jersey to get burgers. Penn’s parents came to the U.S. from India and the actor is a long time vocal advocate for more diversity in Hollywood. Penn played a doctor on the TV series House and the son of Indian immigrants in the film The Namesake. When he took a break from acting, Penn served in the Obama administration as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He’s written a memoir about his adventures in Hollywood and Washington called You Can’t Be Serious. “Now What” is produced with help from Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoeim and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Writer Delia Ephron ran into a rough patch that lasted for years. First, her sister Nora died. After Delia’s husband passed away, Delia was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia that killed Nora. Doctors told Delia her own chances of surviving were not good. She tells that gripping story in a memoir called Left on Tenth. But not all is doom and gloom. Something unexpected happened to Delia in the midst of all the loss; she fell in love. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Annika Hoiem. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
His book about healing trauma, The Body Keeps the Score, has been on the paperback bestseller list for more than 4 years. So why are people so interested in trauma, terrible events that sear themselves into our minds and won’t let go? Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk has spent decades working on ways to free people from the traumatic events that have shaped their lives. We talk about ghosts past and present, psychedelic drugs and what we have to do to feel comfortable in our bodies. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Alex Wolfe and Annika Hoiem. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 70-years on the throne with people pouring into the streets to toast the longest-reigning British monarch. But the 96-year old Queen has had her challenges in recent years. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle quit their royal duties and took off for southern California. Prince Andrew got himself in trouble with allegations of sexually abusing underage women and hanging out with Jeffrey Epstein. Tina Brown, author of The Palace Papers tells us what’s next for the House of Windsor. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoeim and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
He’s known as the Prince of Puke. John Waters’ film Pink Flamingos starring Divine is about a woman who’s competing for the title of Filthiest Person Alive. In Multiple Maniacs Divine gets sexually assaulted by a giant lobster. Waters’ films like Hairspray and Cecil B. Demented have become cult classics. Waters may be a counter culture hero but he’s also a successful brand. His latest work is a novel called Liarmouth. I talk to John Waters about being an oddball and why he draws on his moustache. “Now What” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Gabe Zimmer and Annika Hoiem. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Anna Quindlen became a star at the New York Times writing about motherhood and what it’s like to go to the supermarket dragging little kids along, an event she said should be included in the Olympics. After being awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her Op-ed column Public and Private., Quindlen announced that she was quitting her job at the Times to become a full time novelist. She’s now putting the finishing touches on novel number 10. I talk to Anna Quindlen about being prolific, her grand kids and the looming threat to abortion rights. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoiem and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Kent Swig is a legend in real estate circles. Swig began buying buildings in New York’s financial district in the late 90s. At the peak, Swig’s buildings were worth about $3 billion. But when the 2008 financial crisis hit, the bottom fell out for Swig. He’d taken out what he thought would be a short-term personal loan of more than $21 million and his marriage ended in a bitter divorce. Now Swig is back. He’s paying his creditors, he’s doing deals and riding his surfboard in a quest to find the perfect wave. “Now What? is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoeim and Alex Wolfe. Audio production in by Nick Ciavatta.
We wake up in the morning and plan. Maybe I’ll meet a friend for lunch. Maybe I’ll go to Italy in July. But life sometimes throws unexpected curves. That’s what happened to writer Amy Bloom who was happily married to her husband Brian, an architect, when she began to notice that Brian would get lost on his way to the grocery store. When Brian was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease he made a decision. He asked Amy to research ways he could end his life quickly and painlessly. I talk to Amy Bloom talk about what happened next, endings and beginnings. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Annika Hoeim and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.