Fantasy Colbert League, February 14 – 17

fcl weeklyWelcome back to the Fantasy League, Zoners!

It has been an eventful, newsy break, what with the excitement about Stephen’s upcoming performance in Company, followed by the big sail from Charleston to Bermuda. When does the man sleep? What surprise will he spring on us next? I’m blown away, so this week I’m going to take a slight detour and ask a fun question: Since this is the Fantasy League, what is your PROFESSIONAL Stephen fantasy? What artistic challenge would you like to see him take on—something theatrical? Musical? Cinematic? Literary?

I’ll give you mine: I want to see Stephen star in a remake of the film A Face in the Crowd, playing the role of Lonesome Rhodes (a terrific Andy Griffith originally, very far from Mayberry). It’s the dark side of Colbert Nation, an image of what could happen if Stephen were to unleash his awesome power for evil. As a bonus, it does involve some singing. For those of you who have never seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

Now, back to the REPORT. This week’s ‘Colbert Report’ journey begins musically and moves toward the historical, ending roughly in Stephen’s southern neck of the woods, with a Civil War historian.

Monday 2/14: LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem Farewell, so long: I assume that musical guest LCD Soundsystem is coming on to say goodbye. Slightly over a week ago, they announced they were going to retire after a final, quickly sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, set to take place April 2nd. (The band was so upset at how quickly scalpers snatched up the tickets—shutting out real fans and even friends of the group—that they’ve added four new nights at the popular Terminal Five club leading up to the finale.)

Created by James Murphy, founder of DFA Records, LCD Soundsystem released its first record, “Losing My Edge” in 2002. The song eventually became one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 best songs of the decade, starting a string of award-winning and critically acclaimed albums, culminating in 2010’s This Is Happening. Playful, somewhat punky and somewhat electronica, the band’s intellectual and humorous approach to music should make it just right for Stephen. Here’s one of their videos, for Drunk Girls, directed by the great Spike Jonze.

Fract: Several of LCD Soundsystem’s songs were used in the soundtrack of Noah Baumbach’s film Greenberg.

Tuesday 2/15: David Albright
David AlbrightNo wonder TCR is considered one of the best shows for presenting scientific ideas and policy to a mass audience. Once again, Stephen welcomes a physicist to the show: David Albright, the President and cofounder of the Institute for International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C. ISIS is dedicated to limiting the threat of nuclear weapons around the world. As Albright put it: “We simply want to prevent the misuse of science to justify war.”

Albright was one of the first inspectors to inspect the Iraqi nuclear facilities prior to the war and was greatly upset about the Bush administration’s decision to go into Iraq, saying in The New Republic that “I became dismayed when a knowledgeable government scientist told me that the administration could say anything it wanted about the tubes while government scientists who disagreed were expected to remain quiet.”

He is widely published in such journals as Science, Scientific American, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, The Washington Post, Newsday, The New York Times, The Public Interest Report, and Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy. He received the Joseph A. Burton Forum Award from the American Physical Society, a professional society of American physicists, as well as an Olive Branch Award in 1992. His book Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America’s Enemies examines illicit arms sales and particularly Pakistan’s attempts to develop a nuclear weapon; it received a starred review from Booklist. Last year, he discussed the situation in Iran with PBS’s Tavis Smiley.

Wednesday, 2/16: Kurt Andersen
Kurt AndersenHere’s a guest I’m looking forward to a lot, because he’s political, satiric, and smart. After, all Kurt Andersen, among many other accomplishments, was the cofounder of Spy magazine. That’s why he’s back for a second visit to the Report!

Author, cultural critic, and radio host Andersen writes both fiction (his story “Human Intelligence” appeared in a recent Neil Gaiman/Al Sarrantonio anthology) and nonfiction. Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America, published in 2009 and the subject of his last TCR appearance, argued that our current economic troubles could stimulate us to reconsider what’s actually important in our lives and treasure some of great social strides we’ve made in the past decades. (Here is also the exclusive “backstage visit” video from the Colbert Nation site.) His much-praised historical novels Heyday and Turn of the Century both became bestsellers, and the latter is set for a film adaptation, to be directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Like Stephen, he’s a Peabody award winner, for his radio show Studio 360.

He has also worked as an editor or columnist for New York magazine, The New Yorker, and Time—for which he also wrote on architecture and design.

Fract: On his website, in a section dedicated to TV, mentions a show he’d tried to develop for NBC called After Hours. It never came to fruition, but listen to his description: “A decade before The Daily Show premiered, it was The Daily Show if The Daily Show had actual network broadcast journalists as its deadpan anchors and correspondents.” If it had gone on air, think how might it have changed TV history!

Th 2/17: Eric Foner
Eric FonerKurt Andersen writes historical novels; Eric Foner writes history. He’s DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, and his work has often focused on race relations in America, especially the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. (That means he must have lots to say about Stephen’s native South Carolina, a pivotal and highly troublesome state!)

His most recent book was The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, published in 2010 which only a few days ago won the prestigious Lincoln Prize. Foner also co-curated exhibits examining Lincoln’s legacy, including A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln for the Chicago Historical Society. His multi-award-winning Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, received the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, and Los Angeles Times Book Award.

In addition to being a top Fulbright-winning scholar, Foner is known as a superb teacher; he received the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates (1991) and the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching from Columbia University in 2006.

A veteran of TCR, Eric Foner last appeared on Colbert to “answer for his liberal crimes” and history textbook Give Me Liberty in a riotously funny I’s on Edjukashun segment. My favorite line: “a society that doesn’t know history is like a person with no memory.”

Fract: Red Baiting: the conservative right has accused him of being “anti-American” and coming out of a prominent Communist family. Some things never change.

So, Zoners–tell me which guest piques your curiosity most and what your dream Stephen performance would be!
A happy week to all.


  1. Really excited for this list. Science, history, and satire, Stephen should have a ball with all of the guests from Tuesday through Thursday. They all sound absolutely fascinating, and I can’t wait for those interviews. Eric Foner in particular has me rather intrigued, as do those books, will have to search them out at some point.

    And then of course, LCD Soundsystem. I don’t know a ton of their music, but I’m certainly familiar with the name and everything, and I always, always love it when Stephen has musical guests on, so hooray for that in and of itself!

    Looks like a top week’s worth of guests. Can’t wait, happy to have the show returning on such a strong note.

  2. I love your question, “what is your PROFESSIONAL Stephen fantasy? What artistic challenge would you like to see him take on—something theatrical? Musical? Cinematic? Literary?”…
    Okay, I’ve got two musical theater fantasies. First, a revival of “The Music Man” with Stephen as Harold Hill (I’m playing Marian the Librarian, but it’s my fantasy). Seriously though (although I was being perfectly serious), he would be the best Harold Hill ever. It’s a perfect role for him.
    Second, (okay, he probably should have played this ten years ago, but again, it’s my fantasy) he plays “El Gallo” in “The Fantasticks.”
    Oh, and my literary fantasy is that he writes something non-fictional by the real him.

    • Karenatasha says:

      Well, you know, SW…it IS a family-friendly site! ;-)

      “Music Man” is a wonderful idea. He’d be fabulous. And fantasize on, Maid Marian!

    • Okay, I’ve got two musical theater fantasies. First, a revival of “The Music Man” with Stephen as Harold Hill (I’m playing Marian the Librarian, but it’s my fantasy). Seriously though (although I was being perfectly serious), he would be the best Harold Hill ever. It’s a perfect role for him.

      YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I’m from the town that inspired that musical, so that would just add to the complete and utter awesomeness of him doing such a thing. Even more so if this took place IN my town. I’d kind of have a massive happy freak out.

      (And yeah, totally agreed on wanting to play Marian. If I had any decent acting skills, that is. I have worked in a library, though, if that helps :p?)

      Also, since we all seem to love hearing him sing, if he did some sort of album of songs or something like that, for a charity cause or whatever, I’d be pretty jazzed to hear that, too. Any style he wanted, doesn’t matter. It’d just be lovely to hear.

  3. hmmmm, interesting question. Professional fantasy. Well, a fantasy of mine for awhile now has been for him to come to Boston. Either doing a field piece, which has been done before, or to actually bring the show to Boston, even if it’s only for one day. I know he takes the 4th of July off, but we put on a spectacular 4th every year. It would be perfect for “Stephen”.

    What would I love to see him do, outside the show? What wouldn’t I like to see him do! I would go see him read the IRS code. However, I guess if I could choose, I think he would be wonderful as Capt Von Trapp, if they ever did a remake of The Sound of Music. They really should do a remake, and tell the real story of the Trapp family. The movie, as wonderful as it was, was really not that accurate. Although the real story is kinda boring, perhaps that’s why they spruced it up a bit. Maybe they could do a “mockumentary”. Anyway, I could definitely picture him as Capt. Von Trapp.

  4. “However, I guess if I could choose, I think he would be wonderful as Capt Von Trapp, if they ever did a remake of The Sound of Music.”

    Ha! I love this. You’ve totally got me picturing him singing “Edelweiss” whilst strumming his guitar.

  5. Karenatasha says:

    Interesting! I’d never have thought of that.

  6. Mr. Arkadin says:

    My PROFESSIONAL (Ha! You know your zoners don’t you Karenatasha.) fantasy would be for him to cut an album. (Do they still cut albums?) Fronting a jazz big band (or orchestra) and singing the lyrics of Johnny Mercer. Stephen would be perfect for those songs!
    I know Stephen doesn’t like jazz & would probably be much happier singing with what’s left of The Who. But damn it, I can dream can’t I?

  7. pkyoubuggin says:

    I would like Stephen and Steve Carell to do a buddy cop movie.

  8. All of these responses are so wonderful… I’ve got just the thing to make us all happy: The Stephen Channel. The shows could be: Stephen in the Best of Musical Theater Show, Stephen and His Jazz Band, Stephen Sings Standards, Stephen’s Book Show, The Stephen Midnight Movie… oh, and what the heck, since we’re just in fantasy land here, how about the Stephen Brings Your Dreams to Life show? There now, I think I’ve covered everything. Obviously, the last show would need to be on after 10:00, with a disclaimer.
    Oh dear, I just re-read what I wrote. I am so embarrassed, but I am going to hit…”Submit!” (Hey, now that sounds like a good name for another show…)

    • Obviously, the last show would need to be on after 10:00, with a disclaimer.

      Haha, when I read “midnight movie” I was already thinking along those lines :p.

      *Cough* So, um, anywho…I like this channel idea :D.

  9. Here’s a fun tidbit for Tuesday’s show that really has nothing to do with the guest: ISIS is also the name of the spy agency on one of my favorite shows, Archer. This, I’m sure, means nothing to all of you, but it made me giggle. ;)

    I’ve never listened to LCD Soundsystem, but it’s always a nice change when there’s a musical guest on the show, so tonight should be fun. And speaking of musical guests, I’m crossing both my fingers and my toes that The Decemberists come back on TCR very soon. They just so happen to have a new album out (which is absolutely amazing), and I would very much love to see them on the show again.

    As for my professional Stephen fantasy, I’m going to agree with Mr. Arkadin. I would LOVE for Stephen to put an album out. I don’t care if it’s a “Stephen and Friends” album or if it’s an album of covers, funny songs, or originals. I just welcome any and every opportunity for Stephen to sing. It’d also be neat to see him host “Saturday Night Live” someday. Oh, and throw in a book of biographical essays while we’re at it. :)

    • Mr. Arkadin says:

      “It’d also be neat to see him host “Saturday Night Live” someday.”

      I”d love to see Stephen on SNL! But only after we’ve mastered time travel & Stephen can perform with the brilliant original cast that is worthy of him. Or at least back to when the late,great Phil Hartman was alive. :)

      “Archer” is a good show? I’ve always been interested in watching that show, but never gotten around to it.Could I drop in on the series now, in season two and “get” it? Or should I go back & try see the first season first?

      • Yeah, I thought of time traveling Stephen back to the SNL cast of my choice as well. As much as I’m sure Stephen would love to perform with the original cast, I personally would put him in with the Dana Carvey years. Which would include Phil Hartman (and Chris Farley and Tim Meadows). So technically, it’s a win-win.

        I’ve loved Archer from the very first episode. The title character is voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, who has such a great voice for animation (he’s been on Family Guy and is also on Bob’s Burgers. He also did a ton of sketches on Important Things With Demetri Martin.) And I think you could drop in on the series now and not be lost. If you really start to like the show, you’ll probably want to rent the 1st season just for your own benefit, but you’ll definitely still get the gist of the show if you dive in right now.

        • Mr. Arkadin says:

          Thanks Lockhart! I’ll give the show a shot On Demand this week.

          I’m perfectly fine with dropping Stephen in during “The Carvey Years.” That’s actually when I first started watching SNL “live.” Yeah, I’m one of the olds. (Over.)
          But I would still want to see Stephen w/ young Bill Murray, Father Guido Sarducci,& alive John Belushi & Mike O’Donoghue. :)

  10. Oh, definitely a big YES to Saturday Night Live. Absolutely. Wouldn’t it be funny if he did “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” live and in costume (instead of as a cartoon)?

    • “Wouldn’t it be funny if he did “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” live and in costume (instead of as a cartoon)?”

      YES. Yes, yes, and more yes to this. My face and stomach muscles are already tightening in anticipation of how funny this would be.

    • Karenatasha says:

      Oh, SW, that is brilliant! And if Carrell were on, that would sort of make two fantasies come true.

      By the way, on your “Canal Stephen,” I want a show dedicated to him doing Samuel Beckett. That’s my other fantasy. I think he’d be so amazing in his “countryman’s” plays.

    • Karenatasha says:

      Oh, and…can we have Stephven WRITE it too, so it might actually be good?

  11. ” ‘Ambiguously Gay Duo’ live and in costume”

    Oh. Oh my….

    Nobody talk for a while.

  12. Glad you all like the idea! Now, writers for the show? Are you reading this?!?
    As to Mr. Arkadin, I say this with affection, but, “I’m one of the olds…”??? Let’s just say Stephen and I are peers. Except I’ve beat him by about 3 years. Although everyone says I look 10 years younger. (One of the olds?!? — Careful what you’re saying! The Dana Carvey years… Was I even still in college then? Eeeeek. Was that the 80s? Please don’t say it was the early 90s. Us old people have weak hearts…)

    • Mr. Arkadin says:

      @SW: I’m truly sorry to have upset you. Let me explain:
      My “One of the olds” comment was because it dawned me that my being at least ten years older the Lockhart43 her frame of reference & mine are completely different. And when I was staying up late watching SNL she was just a little kid! Which depress me. Hence being “one of the olds.”
      Also it was a very obscure callback to her (To prove me memory is still sharp, I guess.) about a skit on TDS we had both enjoyed starring “Dash Worthington.” Who came on and called John Paul Stevens a quitter for retiring from the supreme court. And kept saying “over” at exactly the wrong time.
      Wow. This is way to long. Sorry.

      • Oh, no, no, no — I was not upset at all! Just a mild tongue-very-much-in-cheek reminder that age is all a state of mind. I will likewise refrain from comments like, “You kids today…” (ha, ha, ha). It’s sweet of you to apologize, but there is no apology necessary! Anyway, just ask Jane Fonda; Stephen seems to like older women. Absolutely no offense taken. Please forgive me if I was lacking in humor. Upon reflection, I may have sounded more serious than intended.
        And your post was not too long. (You should see some of mine!)

      • lockhart43 says:

        John Paul Stevens! He’s a quitter! Over.

        I’m naming my future child Dash and then hoping he comes out a 90 year-old man who doesn’t believe that television is real.

  13. Professional-wise, any other kind of theatrical/musical project he takes on (preferably musical theatre since I’m missing “Company”) would be fine with me. Actually…it’s a bit silly, but one of my daydreams is singing a duet with him (I love to sing). Don’t know what song (okay, maybe musical theatre again), but to hear his harmonial baritone vocal chords blending with my own just makes me blush with fangirl giddiness. Probably will never happen though, but it’s nice to dream. Not really professional, so I guess this falls under the category of “idealist personal Stephen fantasy”?

    • I think your fantasy is very sweet… and who knows? Life has many strange twists and turns.
      Meanwhile, here’s another “professional” fantasy: Stephen has a show completely devoted to Zoners, with all of us as guests. Hmmm. Maybe some Zoners would not like to be revealed as such. Hey! I know! Remember when Stephen spent some time answering questions on Reddit? How about (this is a fantasy, remember) if he were to take part in a Zoner chat on-line?!?

      • Aww! Thanks, SW! :)

      • Ooooh, I LIKE that idea! That’d be awesome! I’d happily be a guest (heck, talking about idealist personal fantasies, that would be one of mine-I want to be an author, and I’d love to be a guest promoting a book someday. Singing with him would be heavenly, too…if I had any sort of vocal talent, that is :p).

        • That’s the thing, Angela. Stephen touches my heart in so many ways, but he also inspires me a lot. One of them is that it is possible to have a multiple-hyphenated profession encompassing all that you’ve always wanted to accomplish in your life, and that is what I want to achieve…or at least try. If it doesn’t work out, at least I tried and I will not regret anything. Singer is at the top for now (granted, I still need a little more improvement), and then later will try to add other goals/titles one at a time that I’ve always wanted to achieve. Hence the dream-duet-with-Stephen fantasy. Actually, just anything in which fate will allow me to cross paths with him will be fine…but singing is the clincher. ;) It sounds a like a giant feat and it’s daunting, but I think I can achieve it. Maybe not now. Maybe not tomorrow. But hopefully someday.

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