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Interview: Dissecting the past and present portrayals of Lincoln


Daniel Day-Lewis in the film, "Lincoln."

Henry Fonda in "Young Mr. Lincoln."

This interview aired on KPCC's Off-Ramp

Everyone in this country has carried his face in their pockets — on the penny and the five-dollar bill. And they carry his image in their brains. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, the man who saved the union and was assassinated after his moment of triumph.

But Lincoln served so long ago, at a time with limited pictures and recordings, we don't know what he really was like.

The first film about Lincoln "The Reprieve: An Episode in the Life of Abraham Lincoln," released in 1908. The latest is the bio-pic "Lincoln," directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. 150 years since his term in office, Lincoln still belongs to every era. 

Just how difficult is it to get Lincoln right on film? How close does Daniel Day-Lewis get in this latest addition to the portrayals of Lincoln?


Extended Interview: How death row changed Damien Echols

Damien Echols with Patt Morrison

Raghu Manavalan/KPCC

Damien Echols with KPCC's Patt Morrison

After 18 years and 78 days sentenced to death in an Arkansas prison, Damien Echols was released when new evidence cleared his name. His life became the subject of numerous books and documentaries like HBO's "Paradise Lost" and the forthcoming film, "West of Memphis," but in "Life After Death," Echols himself explains coping with spending nearly half of his life on death row. KPCC's Patt Morrison talked with Echols about his own side of the story.

Excerpts from this interview aired on KPCC's Off-Ramp

Interview Highlights


On what's left for Echols to say about his life

"I tried to steer away from things that have already been covered incessantly and repeatedly. What I wanted to focus on was what no one has before. What you have to take into consideration [is] I'm almost 40 years old. The trial lasted for 17 days. There's a lot more to my life than what happened in that 17-day period."


Extended Interview: Geoff Nunberg chronicles the ascent of the 'A-word'

This interview contains explicit language

The hated boss, the driver that cuts you off on the freeway, an adulterous spouse  — according to linguist Geoff Nunberg, we are now living in the age of a-wordism. But how did a body part turn into a wholly American insult?

From soldiers on the World War II battlefield to Neil Simon plays and Woody Allen movies, Nunberg explains how American fame and values has only exacerbated the a-wordism of society. 

While Geoff was here, he gave us his own insight of a few notable figures and whether they pass the a-word test:

Donald Trump: "He's the a-word's a-word. He's distinguished himself in this way in his personal life, in the drama he creates in reality television. You get to see being a person like this, to people who are encouraged behave this way themselves to stay on the show. It's kind of a theatre of a-wordism, as are a lot of reality shows. And in his political life also, he's managed to be an a-word. And for a while because of that, to rise to the top of the Republican polls in early 2011, [which is] extraordinary, because people who were for him weren't denying that, 'he's the a-word we need to take on that other a-word.'"


Extended Interview: Ed Begley Jr. stars in political farce 'November'

Courtesy of Centre Theatre Group

With election season underway, even plays are getting into political theatre. David Mamet's farce "November," opens at the Mark Taper forum, and tackles everything from civil unions to Thanksgiving turkey lobbyists. KPCC's Patt Morrison sat down with the star, Ed Begley, Jr. "November" runs through November 4th at the Mark Taper Forum. Tickets can be purchased at their website. An excerpt from this interview ran on KPCC's Off-Ramp.

The President is a big target for humor, what does "November" do differently?

"I had seen [past David Mamet plays] "American Buffalo," "Glengarry Glen Ross," and "Oleanna," and then I got to work with [Mamet] on "The Cryptogram," and I realized personally how funny he was. He is so funny in person, I went 'Wow, wouldn't it be great if he wrote a comedy?'"

What's "November" about?