Hank Azaria Is Willing to Stop Voicing Apu and Hopes ‘The Simpsons’ Hires South Asian Writers

“My eyes have been opened,” the actor said of the controversy surrounding Apu.

Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? Hank Azaria is ready to say goodbye to Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The actor told “The Late Late Show” host Stephen Colbert on Tuesday that he was “perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do, to me.”

Azaria has voiced Apu since “The Simpsons” launched nearly three decades ago. But concerns over the stereotypical nature of the character have gained more attention after being the subject of the documentary “The Problem with Apu.” In that film, comedian Hari Kondabolu interviewed celebrities of South Asian descent about the negative impact that the character has had on them. Azaria has previously expressed concern that Apu might be deemed offensive or hurtful, and has said that the show will address the issue.

Indeed, “The Simpsons” recently broached the subject of Apu in the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” in a scene where Marge and Lisa noted the show still isn’t sure what to do with the character.

“It’s hard to say,” said Lisa, next to a photo of Apu. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” But the show’s decision to focus on political correctness, and use normally sensitive and progressive Lisa as the sounding board, disappointed many critics.

Weighing in on “The Simpsons” while promoting Season 2 of his live-action IFC comedy “Brockmire,” Azaria said he wasn’t aware until air (since Apu isn’t voiced in that scene) that it was going to be handled that way.

“I think that if anybody came away from that segment feeling that they should lighten up or take a joke better or grow a thicker skin or toughen up — yeah, that’s certainly not the way I feel about it,” Azaria said. “And that’s definitely not the message that I want to send.”

Azaria said he has given a lot of thought to the fare of Apu and how the show might properly address the character.

“It’s come to my attention more and more over the past couple years,” he told Colbert. “My eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been.

“In television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers’ room,” he added. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers’ room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced.”

In January, Azaria told reporters that “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing.”

“The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean has limited his comments on the aftermath of the episode, only writing on Twitter that  “I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right.”

Here’s a clip from Azaria’s appearance on “The Late Late Show”:

James Cameron Hopes for ‘Avengers’ Fatigue: ‘There Are Other Stories To Tell’ In Sci-Fi

Promoting his new docuseries “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” the filmmaker also shared more detail about the next four “Avatar” films.

As it appears that this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to an end with “Avengers: Infinity War,” sci-fi aficionado James Cameron says that’s probably for the best.

The man behind legendary sci-fi franchises such as “Terminator” and “Avatar” told reporters on Saturday that he’s a fan of the “Avengers” movies, but he fears that they have dominated too much of the genre as of late.

“I’m hoping we’ll start getting ‘Avenger’ fatigue here pretty soon,” Cameron said. “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”

Cameron has been thinking a lot lately about the history and state of sci-fi as the host and executive producer of “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction.” The six-part docuseries, which premieres Monday, April 30, tackles various subjects about the genre (such as aliens and artificial intelligence) via interviews with notables including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver.

Cameron has been busy working on the next four installments of “Avatar,” which he describes as focusing much more on families and generations (a bit like “The Godfather” saga) in its installments. Production on the second and third movies are under way, with the fourth and fifth versions having also been mapped out and written.

“I’ve found myself as a father of five starting to think about what would an ‘Avatar’ story be like if it was a family drama,” he told reporters. “What if it was ‘The Godfather’? It’s a generational family saga. That’s very different than the first film. There’s still the same setting and the same respect for the shock of the new. We still want to show you things that you haven’t even seen or imagined, but the story is very different. It’s a continuation of the same characters… but what happens when warriors who are willing to go on suicide charges and leap off cliffs, what happens when they grow up and have their own kids? It becomes a very different story.”

But because he’s been busy with that universe, Cameron admitted that “I would say I don’t have a good sense, my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist today because I haven’t had a TV show or movie out recently. So I don’t know where tastes are going in respect to science fiction.”

That being said, he does note that sci-fi stories have split a bit into two realms, at least when it comes to depitcing science: “We can see the market drives us to a sort of science fiction now thats either completely escapist and doesn’t require a technical consultant — an example of that would be ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ It’s just fun,” he said. “We don’t care how those spaceships work or any of that stuff works. And then you have scientifically responsible science fiction like ‘The Martian’ or ‘Interstellar.'”

‘Pretty In Pink’ Reunion: Watch Molly Ringwald Take Down Jon Cryer With Her Rap Battle Skills on ‘Drop The Mic’

Exclusive: It’s not pretty, but these mad rhymes are hilarious.

It’s the “Pretty in Pink” sequel that no one saw coming: Andie (Molly Ringwald) and Duckie (Jon Cryer) finally resolve a few things, via sick burns on TBS’ hip-hop battle series “Drop the Mic.” On this Sunday’s episode, Ringwald and Cryer lay it all out: Cryer proclaims, “You’re not Julianne Moore, you’re Julianne less!” But Ringwald hits him back hard: “You’re 5-foot-6, weigh 110, now were you the half man in ‘Two and a Half Men’?”

Watch the full clip below!

“Drop the Mic,” based on the segment from “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” is a bit of a celebrity roast, as stars come on and put up with some choice disses as they also lob some good ones at their rap opponent.

The matchups are inspired, such as a recent throwdown between 1990s talk show icons Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake.

Among others already seen this season: Shaquille O’Neal vs. Ken Jeong. Others in Season 2 include Jay Pharaoh vs. Marlon Wayans, Luis Guzman vs. Gabriel Iglesias, Seth Rogen vs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Corden vs. Dr. Phil, Mark McGrath vs. Jodie Sweetin, Hanson vs. Sam Richardson, and Michael K. Williams vs. Trevor Jackson.

Jon Cryer, Method Man, Molly Ringwald, Hailey Baldwin, “Drop the Mic”

Kelsey McNeal/Turner

Method Man and Hailey Baldwin host “Drop the Mic,” while James Corden, Ben Winston and Jensen Karp are executive producers. The show airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on TBS.

Apple’s Still-Secretive TV Plans: Here’s What We Know So Far, Including a List of Shows

It’s one of the biggest mysteries in Hollywood: Where will viewers watch Apple shows, and how will they be marketed? All may be revealed later this year.

It’s the biggest question in Hollywood that everyone is asking, and no one has an answer yet: What will Apple’s upcoming video offering actually look like, and how will it be delivered to viewers?

“I don’t know, and nobody knows, and it makes me nervous,” said one top Hollywood agent. “I’d sell one-off deals with Apple all day long. But I’d never do a [major, long-term talent deal] with them because I don’t know what it means to be an Apple show. How do they market it? Where’s it going to show up? How are people going to see it? It makes no sense to me.”

All is expected to be revealed later this fall, as Apple gears up to enter an already saturated marketplace in early 2019. The competition is fierce: Netflix has 125 million customers globally, while Amazon just revealed that Prime has 100 million consumers (although most of those users are presumably in it for the free shipping, not TV shows). Hulu is also in the mix, albeit at a much smaller level, and Disney is prepping its own big entry.

But Apple has a major leg up: Its hardware is already pervasive around the globe. The company has more than 700 million iPhones currently in use worldwide — instant wide penetration for whatever new TV app might pop up on everyone’s screens when the time is right.

Apple has been quiet about its TV ambitions so far, beyond occasionally confirming another big-budget project with A-list stars and producers attached. That’s a bit out of character for TV bosses Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who were much more accessible as the presidents of Sony Pictures Television, where they were required to make extra noise as an independent studio without a network attached.


Van Amburg and Erlicht report to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, who admitted during a SXSW interview last month that “we don’t know anything about making television.” But he did outline that the team of about 40 staffers now charged with populating Apple’s video content would be focused on quality over quantity — with “a few surprises… we think there are ways to leverage technology to make the viewing experience even better.”

He also noted, of course that money isn’t an issue — Apple says it has $285 billion in cash available. For Van Amburg and Erlicht, while they had to make creative deals in order to make budgets work at Sony, they now have upwards of $1 billion in programming money to play with. And they’re using it.

“They’re big buyers,” an agent said. “So we’ve got another big buyer [along side Netflix, HBO and others].” Added a frustrated rival streaming executive: “I’ve lost out on a lot of things to them. I know they’re spending a lot of money.”

Much has been reported that Apple is focused on fare that isn’t too dark or edgy, although that’s not quite the mandate — more simply, Apple is likely looking for broad fare that will appeal to a wide swath of Apple users. It’s similar to what Amazon Studios is aiming to do now with its own program readjust. Under Van Amburg and Erlicht, Apple is developing fare under adult drama and children departments, as well as for Latin American and European programming.

Will viewers have to pay a subscription for the new fare, just like they now have to pay for Apple Music in order to watch the “Carpool Karaoke” series? What will the new service be called? Will it appear as its own app? What about viewers who don’t currently have an Apple device? Stay tuned. For now, here’s what we do know: A list of programs that have been picked up by Apple.

Exclusive - Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon seen at the 29th annual American Cinematheque Award honoring Reese Witherspoon at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, in Century City, CA29th annual American Cinematheque Award honoring Reese Witherspoon, Century City, USA - 30 Oct 2015

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon

Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Series orders

“Amazing Stories” (Universal TV/Amblin TV): A new take on the Steven Spielberg anthology thriller series. Bryan Fuller is no longer involved as showrunner, but a replacement is expected to be named soon. 10 episodes.

“Central Park” (20th Century Fox TV): Animated musical series from Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad and Nora Smith, about a family of caretakers who save Central Park and the world. Voice talent includes Gad, Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., and Stanley Tucci. Ordered for two seasons, at 13 episodes each.

“Home” (Time Inc./MediaWeaver/Altimeter Films): Docuseries that takes a look inside “the world’s most extraordinary homes, and the boundary-pushing imagination of the visionaries who dared to dream and build them.”

“See” (Chernin Entertainment): From creator Steven Knight, “an epic world-building drama set in the future.” Francis Lawrence is director.

Untitled Damien Chazelle project (MRC/Automatik/Original Headquarters): Chazelle is writing and directing this hush-hush project.

Untitled Kristen Wiig project (Hello Sunshine): Wiig stars in this half-hour based on Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection “You Think It, I’ll Say It.” Collen McGuinness is creator and showrunner, while Wiig and Reese Witherspoon are also executive producers. 10 episodes.

Untitled Morning Show project (Echo Films/Hello Sunshine/Media Res): Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon star and executive produce this look at the world of morning TV news. Kerry Ehrin is showrunner. Picked up for two seasons, 10 episodes each.

Untitled Ronald D. Moore project (Sony Pictures TV/Tall Ship Prods.): Moore, Ben Nedivi, and Matt Wolpert created and wrote the pilot, about what would have happened if the space race had continued.


“Are You Sleeping” (Chernin Entertainment/Hello Sunshine): From creator Nichelle Tramble, the show is inspired by America’s obsession with true crime podcasts and based on the Kathleen Barber novel “Are You Sleeping.” Executive producers also include Octavia Spencer and Reese Witherspoon.

“Foundation” (Skydance Media/Endeavor Content): From executive producers Josh Friedman and David Goyer, based on the Isaac Asimov novel about humans on planets throughout the galaxy, under Galactic Empire rule.

“Little America” (Universal TV): Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon are among the executive producers on this comedy, an anthology series based on stories in Epic Magazine about the lives of immigrants in America. Lee Eisenberg is showrunner.

“Swagger” (Imagine TV/ Thirty Five Media): Based on Kevin Durant’s life growing up playing basketball in Washington, D.C. Reggie Rock Bythewood is director and writer.

‘Wild Wild Country’: Mark Duplass and Filmmakers On Sheela’s Regrets, and If She’s a Psychopath — Turn It On Podcast

Duplass and directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way reveal how they got Sheela to talk, and share the “most terrifying component” of the entire clash between Oregon and Rajneeshpuram.

Mark Duplass admits that he can identify a bit with Ma Anand Sheela, the focus of Netflix’s buzzworthy docuseries “Wild Wild Country.” (Well, except for perhaps the part where she tried to poison people across Oregon by sprinkling salmonella over restaurant salad bars.)

The personal secretary to cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Sheela didn’t initially come to Oregon in the early 1980s to cause trouble. But after her attempts to build Rajneeshpuram — a multi-million dollar utopia in a remote part of the state — were met with resistance, she went on the offensive.

For Duplass, who executive produced “Wild Wild Country,” Sheela’s resolve kind of reminds him of his early days in filmmaking.

“Sheela started with ideological love and excitement to build this community, which is very similar to how I came into independent cinema,” Duplass told IndieWire’s TURN IT ON podcast. “I just want to make my creative stuff and make it good. But then Sheela started to get threatened and she accidentally realized that she was an incredible game player and an incredible political maneuverer. Maybe didn’t even know that until she got in that position, which is exactly what happened to me.

“I went and made some studio movies, and I was like, ‘I’m not going to be able to do what I want to do,’ and I started to feel threatened, and then I tried to build a whole new system that worked for me,” he said. “I started lashing out and pushing away people and saying, ‘F–k you guys, I’m going to do things my way.’ I totally identify with Sheela. I haven’t had to poison anybody yet. But I really feel that thing. When I get threatened, I turn, and people who work with me see that. Mark’s such a nice guy, but if you tell him he can’t do something the way he wants to do it, watch the f–k out!”

Directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way stumbled across the story of Sheela while going through hundreds of hours of footage (saved by local TV stations and archived at the Oregon Historical Society) about the Rajneesh’s controversial attempts to build a commune city in the middle of the state. What began as an attempt to build utopia turned dark when Oregon land use laws threatened their new community. With Sheela leading the way, the Rajneeshees decided to fight back by taking over a nearby town, and from there, things got even uglier. Cult leaders, mass poisonings, assassination attempts, bombings, this story had it all.

The Way brothers eventually hooked up with the Duplass Brothers, and Mark Duplass joined the project as an executive producer to help ferry it through and serve as a bit of a mentor. Since its premiere on Netflix, “Wild Wild Country” has become a phenomenon, and viewers can’t get enough of the debate over whether Sheela was doing what she needed to do to protect her community, or if she was a psychopath.

Wild Wild Country also feels timely as it touches on issues of immigration, voter surpression, religious freedom, and much more. IndieWire’s TURN IT ON recently met up with Chapman and Maclain Way, along with Mark Duplass, to discuss how “Wild Wild Country” was made, their take on the reactions so far, what they left out of the series, how they got Sheela to open up, and what’s next. Listen below!

In joining “Wild Wild Country,” Duplass said he was attracted to the energy of the Way brothers, who reminded him of “me and [his brother] Jay, 15 years ago.”

Maclain Way called Duplass “the guardian angel on the project.” Added Duplass: “I can offer something that I accidentally built over the past 15 years, which is, a brand that a place like Netflix can trust and a model of making things cheaply so you could do whatever you want creatively.”

In mapping out the bible to the series, Maclain Way said six episodes made sense to tell the story of the Rajneesh. They also had a pretty good idea of who they wanted to interview, but there were plenty of surprises along the way — including John Silvertooth, the former mayor of nearby Antelope, Ore.

“We were only going to interview him for one day, and then we added a second day because the material was so great,” Chapman Way said. Added Duplass: “We want to remake ‘Columbo’ with John Silvertooth in the lead!”

Wild Wild Country

“Wild Wild Country”


Of course, the holy grail was Sheela, and “we knew right away if we were doing this longform we had to feel from her what happened,” Chapman Way said. “To our surprise, she felt like she had never been give an opportunity, to explain this whole saga from her lens, her perspective. So we took the time to get to knew her, we took multiple trips our to Switzerland participation.”

The Ways ended up shooting Sheela over five days, for four hours a day.

“Day 1 wasn’t anything that interesting or special,” Maclain Way said. “She walked us through a little bit of her childhood, how her father was part of the independence movement with Gandhi. It wasn’t until we started showing her all the footage that we acquired that I think for her a flood of memories came back over those old feelings she had probably pushed away.”

Among the portions of the interview not seen in the docuseries, Maclain Way said Sheela expressed real regret: “Sheela actually said in an interview, if she had to do it all over again, she definitely wouldn’t come to Oregon and she definitely wouldn’t even come to America.”

Another tidbit not included on screen: “Sheela was an accomplished chess player,” Maclain Way said. “Her father taught her chess and loved to play chess. And she would often talk about this battle was chess. All was fair in love and war. And at a certain point I think Sheela felt, ‘gloves are off, you’re going to bomb my hotel, you’re going to come after me, I’m not playing nice guy anymore.'”

Wild Wild Country Netflix

“Wild Wild Country”


Beyond the tale of what happened to Rajneeshpuram, the Ways wanted to explore how “this group got to that point. That was something a lot of people didn’t want to dive into over the years. They just wanted to label this group these terrorist sex cult without doing the work of what led them to this moment. These were successful highly intelligent people who were looking for something more in their life.”

Ultimately, the depiction of voter suppression is relatable to 2018 viewers, as various local and state governments are actively engaged in attempts to limit voting by minorities.

“One of the most terrifying components of the whole thing that not a lot of people are talking about was maybe for the first time in American history, we couldn’t find any other examples, the government refused the right for people to vote,” Chapman Way said. “They shut down these voter registrations for homeless people who had been bused to the ranch. You expect the Rajneeshis to bend the law and you expect the East Oregonians to bend the law to their advantage but when the government does it, that’s the biggest threat to our democracy.”

The Ways and Duplass have been monitoring reaction to “Wild Wild Country” and how some viewers believe Sheela showed psychopathic behavior, while others are sympathetic.

“I follow it closely on Twitter,” Duplass said. “Because it’s fun and you see people writing, ‘#TeamSheela’ at Episode 2 and then by Episode 4 they’re like, ‘No Don’t Do It!'”

Maclain Way noted it’s hard to pick a side because at times, both of them did awful things to each other.

“I think that Sheela in a lot of ways found herself very quickly in a situation where she would not be able to retreat from,” he said. “I don’t know if this is a story that lends itself to quick easy knee jerk answers that are black and white.”

“Wild Wild Country” has become enough of a phenomenon that it was even recently parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” Said Duplass: “They’re watching it in numbers like it’s a bubble gum Marvel movie. A niche sociopolitical documentary about Eastern Oregon is literally playing like a Marvel movie!”

“Wild Wild Country” is now streaming on Netflix.

Maclain Way, Chapman Way, Mark Duplass


IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.

Be sure to subscribe to “TURN IT ON” on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.

Snoop Dogg May Become a Late-Night TV Host, and Why He Doesn’t Want to Host the Oscars

As “Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild” returns, the hip-hop icon explains why it’s now cool to be a game show host, and “diversifying your portfolio.”

Snoop Dogg, late night talk show host? That could be the next evolution in the always-surprising career of the hip-hop icon, whose TBS game show “Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild,” returns on Sunday for a second season.

“It’s the best job in the world to be a game show host, coming from being a rapper and a football coach,” Snoop recently told IndieWire. “This is a comfort zone for me.”

Of course, Snoop is no stranger to the hosting world, having landed an Emmy nomination last year in the outstanding reality host category, along with Martha Stewart, for “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.” But now, Snoop said he’s also kicking around some ideas that might put him in the same arena as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and his old buddy Jimmy Kimmel.

“There are people reaching out to me that like what they see and like what I’m doing,” he said. “We’re in conversations right now with some big networks that want to see Snoop Dogg on late night TV.”

But nothing’s set in stone yet: “I’m trying to assess it all and see if it makes sense. Because I do a lot of things that enable me to be who I am. [But] getting into that world I won’t be able to because I’d have to be exclusively locked down to that particular position. So I’m trying to see what makes the most sense for me and my career.”

“The Joker’s Wild” executive producer Michael Strahan said Snoop exhibits a kind of confidence that makes him a natural host. “Not everyone who’s great on the microphone or a great entertainer can host,” he said. “I think Snoop has a certain swag to him, the way he puts people at ease, that people want to be around him. He has this certain aura that he puts off that people want whatever vibe he’s giving off.

“From day one, he knew he could do this no matter how unorthodox it may have seemed in the beginning,” Strahan added. “And he has proven everybody who said he couldn’t do it wrong. And everybody who believed in him right. If you’re going to commit to something you better believe that you can do it. There’s nobody who believes in himself more than Snoop.”

For Season 2 of “Joker’s Wild,” Snoop is handling the show by himself, without a co-host (which he had in Season 1). Instead, the game show — a revamped reboot of the 1970s staple — focused on bringing in more guest stars to participate in questions. Among this season’s cameos: Ice Cube, RuPaul, Wiz Khalifa, Kevin Smith, Aubrey Plaza, Paris Jackson, Hannibal Buress, Busy Philipps, Adam Devine, Bill Nye, Xzibit, Biz Markie, G-Eazy, Cheech and Chong, Julian Edelman, Dana White, Antonio Brown and Matthew McConaughey.

“That’s a challenge because you have to carry a show and no doubt in our mind that Snoop can carry it,” Strahan said. “But he blew everyone away with how he performed in Season 2. He absolutely crushed it.”

“Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild”


Below, IndieWire spoke to Snoop about how it has become cool to be a game show host, why so many hip-hop stars have gravitated to the job, and whether he’d ever host the Oscars.

It used to be cheesy to be a game show host, but how has that changed?

What they’re doing is they’re finding fly, cool hosts and then they’re putting a little twist on the shows to give it an upgrade. For example, when you look at Family Feud, Richard Dawson was a great host. He was phenomenal.

And he managed to somehow kiss every contestant.

Nowadays he’d have a hundred cases against him right now. The #MeToo society would be on his ass!

But passing the baton to Steve Harvey, he’s doing an exceptional job. Who would have thought? But Steve’s a comedian, he’s used to working a crowd, he’s used to holding a microphone in front of a lot of people. That’s why the game shows and the game show hosts are becoming fly and relevant and hip. And they dress proper and they look good and know how to talk. You watch the shows because you love the contestants but at the same time you love the show, and then you love the host.

Beyond the game play, it’s so much now about the host interacting with the contestants.

Well, my show is basically that. “Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild.” Most of the categories are Snoop-ified and we put my flavor on it. We try to make it as fun as possible. But it’s a Snoop-based show. So when you’re watching you know it’s Snoop influenced all the way through.

You’re hosting a show, Method Man has a show, LL Cool J hosts a show, and there are others. What is it about MCs who have become game show hosts or hosts in general? Is it about that microphone?

I believe that, because “M.C.” stands for “Master of Ceremonies,” or “Microphone Controller.” And one thing about us in rap, the crowd is the hardest thing for us to control. Once you maintain control of the audience in the rap community, doing something like this, this is a cakewalk. There isn’t stress connected to it. Rap audiences expect you to be great, and you’ve got to be flawless, you’ve got to be on point. On this, you can mess up, do it over again, reshoot. We do pick ups, but I’m good, I don’t need a lot of pick ups. But just in case you mess up, you can do a pick up. In the rap world, you don’t get any pick ups. You mess up, you get booed.

And improvising while hosting is a lot like freestyle, right? You have to always be thinking ahead to what you’re going to say and how you’re going to react.

That’s a different kind of timing we have as rappers that’s an advantage we have as game show hosts. Our timing and ability to be witty and fast, and ability to freestyle and ad-lib. That’s a true advantage, especially on a game show where you don’t know what kind of contestants you’re dealing with, you don’t know what is going to happen. You have to be fast and on point. That’s why we’re getting these great jobs.

What’s the reaction in the hip-hop community to all your hosting gigs, including this and the show with Martha Stewart?

Everybody is clapping, standing at attention, wanting to be a part of it. We have celebrities all over this show working on categories and all sorts of things. They all came in here willingly and ready to perform and did funny shit, and all sorts of things that I didn’t expect. And when I did the Martha and Snoop show, we get any celebrity we want to come on and cook and have a good time. The reach that we have is incredible because it’s kinda hard saying no to Snoop Dogg.

Are you surprised at how mainstream that hip-hop has become? 50 Cent is a TV producer!

That’s gratification. “Power” is one of the best shows on TV right now. And to think that it came from 50 Cent is amazing. Everybody in the hood watches “Power.” He’s gratification. He’s a rapper that no one thought would be a great businessman, and he’s one of the greatest businessmen to come out of rap.

Quite a few people have emerged from hip-hop and become moguls by tackling so much beyond rap.

We call that diversifying your portfolio. That’s what we call it in the rap world.

Do you think it’s time to be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’ve got to have been active for 25 years.

That’s this year. My first album came out 25 years ago this year. But I don’t do it for accolades. I don’t watch my highlights. I’m too busy making my next play. I ain’t got time to sit back and watch “Sportscenter” and see what I did.

What’s the most important thing you learned in hosting a TV show?

Control. To always maintain control and take your time. We rush sometimes as rappers. But in the game show world you can take your time and walk. That’s what I’m learning to do to be more precise. The more patient I am the better I am.

And now with Season 2 premiering, you’re up there by yourself. No more co-host.

I can handle it. I’ve been doing this type of thing for a long time. I’m just happy they gave us a Season 2, that it was worthy of more episodes. Season 1 we did ten episodes, Season 2 we’re doing 20 episodes. I must have done something right.

What about hosting other gigs, like the Oscars?

I don’t know about hosting the Oscars, not enough motherfuckers like me be winning. But what else would I like to host? The AVNs [adult video awards]!

“The Joker’s Wild” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.

Katie Couric Witnessed The Ugly Side of America First Hand, Including ‘Urine Bombs’ — Turn It On Podcast

But in talking to people for Nat Geo’s “America Inside Out,” she also found inspiration during troubled times. Couric on the state of journalism, the takeaway from attacks on her gun documentary, the state of #MeToo and more.

Katie Couric was taping an episode of her new National Geographic docuseries in Charlottesville, Va., last year when the alt-right protest there turned violent. One of her camera operators was hit with a “urine bomb” — something Couric had never even heard of until that day.

“It was scary, I was scared,” Couric told IndieWire’s TURN IT ON podcast. “The number of guns that were there, with an open carry state, and the number of various Neo-Nazi groups, it was quite terrifying. The scariest things was the number of young men who participated in this. Young men in their 20s, which was unsettling to say the least.”

A year after her landmark documentary “Gender Revolution,” Couric is back on National Geographic channel to explore some of the most important issues and questions facing America today. In “America Inside Out with Katie Couric,” the former “Today” and “CBS Evening News” anchor once again travels around the country to get some insight into what people are thinking and doing in response to the changing national culture.

Among the topics she looks at are gender inequality, Muslims in America, political correctness, white working-class anxiety, how technology is affecting our humanity and the battle over Confederate monuments and statues.

It was that episode, about the Confederate monuments debate, that brought Couric to Charlottesville — a familiar spot to her, as a University of Virginia graduate.

“In many ways the statues are a proxy for race in America and for how we choose to remember our past and choose to characterize our past,” she said. “It was very surreal and incredibly upsetting but really important to explore and examine and to expose. So I was in a way grateful to bear witness to what happened and to be confronted with this very ugly side of this country that’s been unleashed in this recent months.”

IndieWire’s TURN IT ON sat down with Couric earlier this year to discuss her new series, her time in Charlottesville, the state of journalism, the lessons learned from the controversy over her documentary “Under the Gun,” the state of the #MeToo/Time’s Up movements and how she felt pressured to have to respond to the allegations against her former Today co-anchor Matt Lauer. Listen below!

As a longtime journalist and broadcaster, Couric admits that it’s “really quite distressing and depressing” that the country is so divided, and living in various information (or lack of information) bubbles.

“I was thinking about a speech I gave, about people being warmed by their own ideology like they’re in a convection oven,” she said. “As a friend of mine says, people are seeking affirmation not information. And it’s a real problem. I don’t know how we deal with it. This series is not going to change that. But I think everyone, we all have to make an effort to reach across the aisle and try to have constructive conversations.”

Raleigh, NC - Katie Couric (L) visits the Islamic Association of Raleigh. (National Geographic/Ben McKeown)

Katie Couric visits the Islamic Association of Raleigh

National Geographic/Ben McKeown

Couric experienced it first hand with the recent controversy over her Epix documentary “Under the Gun,” as one editing trick allowed critics to dismiss the entire message of smart and sensible gun reform. “It’s too bad,” she said. “I reached out to them, my hope was that people would understand their point of view and I think it obviously backfired in terms of the way it was put together. It’s a risk when you take on these big controversial topics but somebody has to do it and I hope more people try.”

She also noted that in this “strange and unsettling time,” we’re seeing some of the best journalism in our lifetimes, thanks to “places like the Washington Post and the New York Times and The Atlantic, and all kinds of publications that are doing deep dives and trying to give people context and greater perspective.” But because the way people consume news has changed, so much has become superficial, and there isn’t time for information to sink in and connect the dots.

“It’s important for people to understand that legitimate news organizations with high standards can’t be tarred by the fake news brush,” she said. “I think there needs to be a counter narrative by people who really care about and believe in a free press and that it’s essential for our democracy.”

Meanwhile, noting that one episode of “America Inside Out” explores what modern technology and this social media age might be doing to our minds and bodies, Couric is reminded of the infamous 1994 “Today” show clip, which went viral decades later, in which she and Bryant Gumbel don’t understand what the Internet is.

“I did sound like an idiot and so did Bryant in fairness, but I think a lot of people never imagined the speed and the breadth of the internet and what it would mean for us in so many aspects of our lives,” Couric said.

“America Inside Out with Katie Couric” airs Wednesdays on National Geographic. 

(Photo: National Geographic/Tom Daly)

“America Inside Out”

National Geographic/Tom Daly

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