“What Happened, Miss Williams?” w. Danai Gurira | Crooked Media
February 28, 2024
Keep It
“What Happened, Miss Williams?” w. Danai Gurira

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss Lifetime’s harrowing and possibly exploitative Wendy Williams documentary, Chez Diaz’s firing from And Just Like That, Denis Villeneuve’s thoughts on dialogue in film, Tyler Perry’s use of AI, and the 20th anniversary of Love Angel Music Baby. Danai Gurira joins to discuss her new series The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, balancing acting with playwriting, and more.

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Ira Madison III And we are back for an all new episode of Keep It! I’m Ira Madison, the third.


Louis Virtel I’m noted independent spirit Louis Virtel. How inspirational am I, the way I walk through life.


Ira Madison III I think of myself as a, dependent spirit.


Louis Virtel Dependent on spirits. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel I become dependent on spirits around you. Yes.


Ira Madison III I’m literally Blithe Spirit, actually.


Louis Virtel Oh, that’s nice. A Tony for Angela Lansbury, in your name.


Ira Madison III I would be Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit. I see that for myself.


Louis Virtel You will enter a turban era soon. I see that for you. You know what reminded me of Blithe Spirit, oddly, this weekend? Did you see the SAG Awards and what Barbra Streisand more for her lifetime achievement thing?


Ira Madison III Yes.


Louis Virtel Excuse me. Do you know what she looked like a woman who sells you a mysterious lamp at a bazaar. That’s what I thought she looked like. She was, you know, that sort of vibe.


Ira Madison III Then you take it home. What’s in this lamp?


Louis Virtel Right, right. Barbara. Eden. Yes.


Ira Madison III Well, we have a packed episode this week. We’re doing the intro at the beginning this week.


Louis Virtel Okay.


Ira Madison III You know, just, just, just letting people know what’s coming up in the episode, all right. So that you can turn it off if you don’t care.


Louis Virtel Controversial move. All right, let’s go.


Ira Madison III We have got a lot of news coming up this week. We’ve got the independent Spirit Awards happened, Denis Villenueve, where.


Louis Virtel Denis Villenueve, no good guess.


Ira Madison III Have you seen that YouTube video?


Louis Virtel Yes. Oh, I know what you’re talking about. He goes, Denis Villenueve like he’s from, I got to say, Puerto Rico.


Ira Madison III Yeah. He had some interesting comments about dialog and films also. Chez Diaz is out.


Louis Virtel And as you know, Chez Diaz two real for the general population. That’s my criticism of that show. Chez Diaz was giving a slice of reality that even Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t handle.


Ira Madison III Yes. So this week our guest is Danai Gurira from The Walking Dead. The Ones Who Live.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III A new sequel series.


Louis Virtel Precisely what a Black Panther legend. An unmistakable presence in Black Panther.


Ira Madison III And to Louis’ chagrin  and person who gets me talking about NYU.


Louis Virtel That’s right. I watch me take to the streets in protest after this episode.


Ira Madison III Actually, that was, by the way, one of my favorite jokes at, the Spirit Awards from Aidy Bryant.


Louis Virtel She said something about how people from NYU don’t shut up about being from NYU, and that is just true. I mean, as you’ll know from this podcast, if you listen for even five seconds.


Ira Madison III It’s a drinking game at this point. Also this week we are going to get into the harrowing. There’s really only one way to describe it. Harrowing Wendy Williams documentary on lifetime. Where is Wendy Williams?


Louis Virtel And hopefully we’ll get into her infamous conversation with Whitney Houston from about 20 some years ago, to which is a thrilling listen. If you haven’t put it on recently, you have to clutch a table while you listen to that interview. It’s not comfortable for one second.


Ira Madison III But before that, we’ve got a bunch of news we got to hit. So first of all, Chez Diaz. They’re out. And I don’t mean the closet.


Louis Virtel They’re out also sounds like


Ira Madison III Out of a  pet store.


Louis Virtel They’re out sounds like a Chez Diaz comedy concert.


Ira Madison III Hahahahahahaha.


Louis Virtel Remember when they called that a comedy concert? And we just had to pretend that that was a human expression that people say.


Ira Madison III Well, what’s actually funny about that is I have friends who do comedy concerts. If you go see Larry Owens in New York City, that’s actually the definition of a comedy concert. There’s comedy being done and they’re singing.


Louis Virtel So I guess you would call it a comedic concert. Yes.


Ira Madison III Right. I mean, Matt Rogers comedy concerts.


Louis Virtel I love I love disparagingly calling him a musical comedian, like, my favorite musical comedian. I love when he gets out the banjo.


Ira Madison III But this also implies that Chez Diaz was also singing songs that we never heard.


Louis Virtel And boy, do I believe that. Oh my gosh, you know, Chez came out like one of the Animaniacs or all three of them.


Ira Madison III How many? How many Chez Diaz scenes are just on the cutting room floor?


Louis Virtel Right? I’m trying out material because the material that made it to air again, too real for the general population. How hackneyed it was. Things about. Oh, I took an Uber from my living room to my whatever. Oh come on.


Ira Madison III I do find it interesting that Chez Diaz is now out. Of course, there were there were the rumors before that, Sarah Ramirez was axed from the series because of their stance on Palestine. And people did point out that one of the leads of the series, Cynthia Nixon, is, you know, in these streets, she’s about marches. She’s very vocal.


Louis Virtel She’s and way more vocal than Sarah Ramirez, frankly.


Ira Madison III Yes, of course. And there were other people trying to devil’s advocate that on line by saying, well, Cynthia Nixon is the lead of the show, so of course she can say what she wants. You sound stupid. Yeah, right. Basically, Chez Diaz had reached their natural conclusion, which I’m glad that Michael Patrick King realized, but it’s still it’s still silly to me in how long Sade Diaz lasted, because when you think of, like, the original sex in the city, when Miranda broke up with Chez Diaz, should have been the last time we saw that, right?


Louis Virtel Right. Right, right. No, the arc that Chez Diaz got is longer than most characters would ever get on the original sex in the city. I mean, this is basically like John Slattery’s character getting to be on for three seasons in a row or something. You know.


Ira Madison III Just getting pissed on all over the city.


Louis Virtel With his cute little pencil neck.


Ira Madison III Actually, that would have been a very fun arc to have seen. By the way, Carrie ruining this politician’s, political career. Yeah, I think that they love water sports. And then, I don’t know, him getting revenge.


Louis Virtel Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, because it didn’t really mix with politics a lot. The original show are like New York, New York’s version of politics, which, of course would make sense if it dovetailed more with Carrie Bradshaw. Life. Speaking of that, did you know in the original sex in the city, Candice Bergen played an editor at Vogue, right. In the final seasons?


Ira Madison III Yes.


Louis Virtel Did you know that Candice Bergen’s real life daughter runs Vogue.com now?


Ira Madison III Oh.


Louis Virtel So bizarre. She just did an interview with her own mom, talking about the black and white ball from, feud Capote versus the Swans because her mom went there. And the headline from the article is Candice Bergen doesn’t remember if the black or white ball was fun, which is amazing.


Ira Madison III Well, at least the article is fun, you know, because I can’t think of anything more Vogue than Candice Bergen’s daughter working there and running Vogue.com and also doing an interview with her mother.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. She does have a bit of access there that, you know, blurs journalistic lines.


Ira Madison III But you know what? I’m just glad journalism is alive and well at Vogue.com. Okay.


Louis Virtel Please. Yes.


Ira Madison III Everything else is dead.


Louis Virtel No. Every week, something gets shuttered and you’re like, I think I knew people who weren’t there. But then you think, was that 2016 actually, have they not been there for seven years? You know.


Ira Madison III And then there’s vice.com, which is shut down, which is actually. Sent me down a rabbit hole, a reading old vice.com articles. Because let me tell you, if you work there, there was a time the 20 tens when you were getting a vice RT.com article, pulling what? That was that was beautiful. Do you remember, like, the vice.com’s Guide to Partying?


Louis Virtel Right. Because it sort of blurred. It was like. Like Rolling Stones hard journalism mixed with like, the Village Voice, right? Like it wanted to be like on the streets of New York and then also have, like, a kind of global.


Ira Madison III Scale is all we do. Drugs. Everyone’s doing cocaine. Here’s the parties were at it was it was very much a raucous magazine. I’m just using the word raucous, I don’t know.


Louis Virtel Well, we’ve had a lot of fun, but now we have to get into the, harrowing part of the episode. When we get back, we’ll be discussing Wendy Williams, her new documentary on lifetime, her run-in with Whitney Houston, and whether or not we’re all still standing because of all these things.


Ira Madison III And also this week, Deni Villenueve talked about how he hates dialog in films and, well, you know, our chatty Cathy Louis has some things to say about that. So we will also get into that this week. We’ll be right back.


Louis Virtel [AD]


Ira Madison III Where is Wendy Williams? A Lifetime docu series about the former talk show host dropped over the weekend. Those of us who are hoping for some tea on Wendy’s absence since her show was canceled. Instead, we’re faced with a heartbreaking reality of Wendy’s cognitive and emotional decline in the documentary. That is not only, as we said, harrowing, but also exploitative.


Louis Virtel Well, there’s a lot of questions going on here because, as you said, it’s clear she has advanced dementia in certain ways, so obviously she can’t agree to certain things. And in fact, during a lot of this movie, she’s talking about what she thinks is her plan for getting back on television. Low and behold, she is on our televisions.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Also, by the way, to point out what Wendy Williams has. A lot of articles have let people know that it is the same cognitive disease that Bruce Willis has.


Louis Virtel Aphasia. Right. So soon she won’t be able to recognize faces at all, basically.


Ira Madison III But part of the disease that she has, it was it was also weird just trying to figure out whether or not it was a natural decline. There was a lot of sort of insinuation that it is alcohol induced as well, many of her cognitive issues. And let’s just talk about that. First. The documentary really leans in on Wendy has a drinking problem, right?


Louis Virtel Yes. And like, she’ll be at a restaurant later on with her family, and they, like, she’ll, like, instinctively ask for a drink. And then they say to change it to a Coke or something. So it comes up again and again.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And particularly in some of the last parts of the documentary, which is it’s four episodes that aired on Saturday and Sunday on Lifetime. The Bottles Party cites bottles being found in her bathroom being found in her bed. That was sort of the part that they were leaning into where she’s drinking a lot. But first of all, I just want to talk about the fact that a lot of people were saying this documentary feels exploitative. What did she consent to? Is lifetime profiting off of this in sort of an evil way? And I want to say that I felt that way in the first couple of episodes of it. The first two parts, the first two hours, the Sunday night episodes. I don’t know if I thought that it was particularly exploitative of her. I actually feel like the last half of the documentary was the part that we really needed to see, because. So the documentary starts out with they were planning to document her podcast comeback. Right? And then it became very clear that this podcast was never happening. And. I couldn’t even tell if it was her manager. And we’ll get to him. If it was his incompetence or if he really thought that this was how business was supposed to be done in regards to the podcast, because there’s one scene where she’s being interviewed about when there’s a podcast coming and they’re like, maybe you should shoot a pilot, you know, like let people know, like what they’re getting. And his responses. You know, you don’t think that’s gonna, you know, ruin the sale. You know, if we give them some of the sauce too early of like, what are you talking about?


Louis Virtel Also, it’s Wendy Williams, like you guess you should give people a taste of what it’s going to be, the thing that they will eventually buy. Yeah.


Ira Madison III We also know what it’s going to be about. Yes, Wendy, you know, it’s not I don’t think that she was going to do a hard shift into suddenly hosting Red scare. Yay!


Louis Virtel Yeah, a surreal shift from Wendy Williams.


Ira Madison III But the second half of it was really the part where I think you get into the conservatorship that she was placed under, legally. The New York courts essentially took power away from her family. Her son, Kevin used to have power of attorney. And then it was decided that she he was spending too much of her money, you know, in a $80,000 a year apartment, spending about $100,000 a year on Uber Eats. That’s how much I spend a month in New York. So I was not.


Louis Virtel Yeah. What deal is he.


Ira Madison III By any of that.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. He must live next door to Sweet Green or something.


Ira Madison III And then power was given to this random woman. We we now know that, her name is Simon Morrissey. Because she sued a lifetime to try and get the documentary to not be aired. But this brings up. I was watching it with a friend, and they were asking me a lot about the comparisons between this and Britney Spears. Right? I mean, that’s immediately what would come to mind for people or maybe even Amanda Bynes. And the difference here is, Britney was very specifically a thing where we learned that her father and certain other family members were taking advantage of her, and this was harder because the family, for the most part, seems very loving. Seems like they’re very concerned for her. And I think what it really brought up, they had even an expert come in and talk about, guardianships and how the courts now are just like not putting people under family care anymore. I don’t know how you’re placed under a conservatorship or guardianship. And then seeing the news that we would see about Wendy over the past year, rising out in the Louis Vuitton store, being just drunk and sort of being on Instagram Live, being crazy.


Louis Virtel Right, right, right. No. Also, the family, at least to our eyes, is explicitly like, we hope this airs and people understand now what we’ve gone through. So at least there and it doesn’t feel and they and they’re clearly very loving towards her. And you see these interactions with her that are also a bit instructive, I hate to say, because we don’t have a lot of docu series that I’ve seen about dealing with someone with aphasia, with advanced dementia, because let me be clear, narrative features about this subject are bracing enough. You know, if you put on Still Alice or a more, you know, I would say these are very respected movies and also the least rewatched movies in history because they are so tough, you know, like nobody’s like, oh, it’s Christmas time. Put on away from her. You know, it’s like it’s hard to look at, you know. And so watching this, which documents a real person and we’re very familiar with how she was before this all began. So we’re making the comparison between, you know, the lickety split, compulsively articulate and funny and bitchy. Wendy Williams, compared to what she is now, this was among the most harrowing things I’ve seen all year, like of the past year. I will remember watching it and not knowing it was going to, quote unquote, go so hard. Every scene, just her looking at the camera, not looking like the same person she used to be, in a way. I think it’s like kind of an important doc, but not to say it’s not exploitative in certain ways, but I just can’t think of another thing like it about a celebrity, you know?


Ira Madison III Yeah, I think the thing that really sort of makes it instructive here is the fact that we know we know Wendy Williams. Yeah. You like you talk about she used to be funny and bitchy, and really just great with one liners. And of course, there was always that bit of her personality that was a little bit off or out.


Louis Virtel Of bounds and rude. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Yes. But she’d be talking about something and then also abruptly shift it almost like she had A.D.D.. Yes. What? She’d be just talking about the topic of the five different topics would tumble out of her mouth within one minute. This has turned that into. A kind of uncomfortable meanness. I think that there was a lot there were a lot of scenes where what would sort of used to be funny, her commenting on how someone’s dressed or, you know, saying something else about someone else in the media. Her commenting just on anybody who came to the house with the woman doing her nails, for instance, or an assistant. It was just mean and it was just sort of nasty. And you could tell that she didn’t even know that she was doing that.


Louis Virtel No, it’s I think that’s kind of part of what makes this disease so tough is like, it just brings your sort of phobias and, your mean predilections to the fore, like you can’t filter them. And so you just become this person who’s unable to say anything that isn’t, rude in certain cases, you know?


Ira Madison III Now, I do want to say that I’m also grateful for the third part of this series, the there’s a part where Wendy goes to LA without telling her manager, without telling the family, without telling the legal guardian. It goes with this publicist that she’s had around her, Sean, who was essentially trying to replace the manager and she takes her to LA for a meeting with Nbcuniversal. We don’t get to see the meeting, but there is no way that meeting went well.


Louis Virtel No.


Ira Madison III And the moment where Wendy is just on the sidewalk looking at her Hollywood star. And then some of the dolls pass by her. They’re like, Wendy, we love you. And I’m sorry. There were actually some body parts of the documentary. Uncomfortably funny parts. She says, I have this meeting with Nbcuniversal, and I think one of the dolls says, boots, remember?


Louis Virtel We say that this is this is definitely coming a year and a half ago. Two years ago, I say, I want to emphasize that I say boots all the time. I’m still part of the problem.


Ira Madison III But she’s dressed in this Gucci tart, these short shorts, fishnet stockings, La Croft, hiking through the Antarctic boots and talking about how The Wendy Show is going to be more sexy like this. And she, you know, not, you know, dressed up glam and dresses and things that The Wendy Williams Show used to be. She’s she’s younger and she’s sexier now. And she’s talking about how she’s planning to go to Nbcuniversal. And I know just seeing this woman driving Wendy around this point where she asks Wendy, do you want to go to the Oscars? And Wendy’s like, what? And she’s like the awards show. It was horrifying to me and I feel like, yes, Lifetime might have been. There are parts of this that are exploitative, you could say. But I also feel like at some point, the people making the show, the people who had worked with her on previous documentaries, are watching this unfold and are documenting it because they want people to see what’s happening to her.


Louis Virtel Right, right, right. Also, I was very touched by certain people, talking with Wendy, like Black China at the beginning had a conversation with her, and I was like, okay, everybody needs a friend. Like black China. I did not understand that this woman was so soulful. It was really lovely watching her lovingly deal with a friend who obviously is not what she once was.


Ira Madison III And I think it also taps into that, Wendy that we sort of didn’t know, the Wendy who, she says that when do used to make fun of her as black China, obviously because she would do her hot topics. But when she went on the show, she had just a sweetness to her. And she said, can I call you Angela? You feel like Angela to me, not black China when you’re sitting in front of me. And then she says that they went out for food afterwards and then would continue to hang out. It reminded me of that veneer just sort of drops when you’re in front of some people. I think you remember a few years ago when I went on The Wendy Williams Show. Yeah, we’re doing that Hot Topic panel. And then truly, as soon as the show wraps, I’m just taking a picture and she sort of grabs my arm and she was like, that was so much fun. You’re coming back. You were great. And this was shortly before Covid happened. So obviously I never went back. And then Victor Clyde publicly started. But just to see her, like, all business. And then right after that, still in that moment, just sang it into my ear while we’re taking a photo and the crowd is all still there, I’m like, that is the woman that she really was. And I think that also explains why. For such a polarizing figure, who would say a lot of the nasty things about people in the media. There’s also still so much of love for her.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. Right, right. Well, also, it’s like even though she would be incendiary from time to time, she wouldn’t say too too much. That was I mean, I can think of times where I have been literally mad at what she said, but for the most part, you want somebody to be unfiltered about celebrities and the world they live in. You know, it’s like it just you’re waiting for somebody to say it for you. And which brings us to the topic of her conversation with Whitney Houston from 20 years ago, which we must get into. But listening to this back, the thing that that sticks out to me most, Whitney Houston, much as she is digging at Wendy and kind of poking at her, and occasionally as angry and as occasionally seemingly unhinged, there’s really nothing you can say to unseat Wendy Williams because she sort of owns being trashy or own being.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Um,  mean, so at the end of the day, like Whitney Houston saying things like, you just run your mouth, it’s like, well, that’s exactly what she does. Correct. You know, it’s like it’s.


Ira Madison III Like.


Louis Virtel She has no defenses, actually. And that makes it better for her.


Ira Madison III And there’s also a part where. When you could tell Whitney is enjoying sparring with yes.


Louis Virtel Told yes because. Because Whitney Houston is extremely witty.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And there’s just a moment where you don’t have that anymore. It’s just you don’t really have celebrities who spar with each other anymore like that. Wendy had it on her show. I did. There’s Omarosa, who does it, I guess. Do I mean, let’s let us not forget Omarosa with Bethenny Frankel on her talk show. She was like, I worked at the white House. You bake cupcakes? Those moments. But there aren’t really people who spar like that anymore. I think it’s mostly because we’ve gotten away from radio. We’ve gotten away from really interesting talk shows, to be honest. No shade to Kelly O’Keefe. Yeah.


Louis Virtel Like, I think you’ve even heard the difference between how Howard Stern once was and what he is now. He’s obviously still a fabulous radio host, but it’s there’s there’s not the sense of really digging out a guest on the show or like, being, I don’t want to say mean, but like, critical. In a way. This reminds me of the Independent Spirit Awards this week. And now I thought Aidy Bryant did an amazing job. But the way in which she said, I feel like being a real award show host right now, I’m going to make fun of the audience. And then she just said, Natalie Portman, you stupid bitch. And then like, shied away from like, the joke was she was supposed to make, like a real roast joke about Natalie Portman and just came up with something offensive. But at the same time, I feel like that’s the tenor of most celebrities in that position now. Like, I’m going to play at being mean, but I’m not being mean at all. In fact, it’s pretty safe, you know, whereas Wendy Williams would get up there and say, Natalie Portman here, my eight problems with you, I ranked them.


Ira Madison III As the there’s a moment earlier in the documentary where she’s flipping through magazines and. She’s. She sees a photo of J-Lo and Ben, I presume, when they first got back together and she’s like, well, this girl, you’re not the problem with her. She’ll dump him immediately. She dumps all of them. That’s our problem. And you just missed someone talking about celebrities that way. Or a radio show where someone would call in, or a talk show where there would even be some tension to be had. I’d be the last tense filled talk show moment that we got. It was last week, and we didn’t even get to see the tense moment. I’m of course, talking about Kelly Rowland on the Today Show.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes. Where she left because the dressing room wasn’t big enough. And who did get the big dressing room?


Ira Madison III J-Lo was there.


Louis Virtel Of course. Yes.


Ira Madison III And the big one, which is why is she always at the scene of the crime? Yeah.


Louis Virtel Right. Compare notes, cops. She’s always there.


Ira Madison III Yeah. All roads lead back to J.Lo.


Louis Virtel Yes. Right. Right, right.


Ira Madison III But J.Lo was in the dressing room that Kelly wanted because apparently they offered her this broom closet. And people did chime in to say that the rooms are notoriously very small. Bethenny Frankel even chimed in. This is what I mean about the radio sort of vibe. Bethenny Frankel is we now just mostly have celebrities like Bethenny or Isaac Banks or Nike who do their rants online.


Louis Virtel Yeah, and jump out.


Ira Madison III In a live stream. Yeah, but there’s no interaction with other people. You know, it’s just sort of themselves is what we have now. But Rita Ora is the one who ended up with the room. She came in last minute. And, replace Kelly Rollins on the show. Which, you know what? If you stay ready and Rita Ora stays ready.


Louis Virtel She’s that like a starting line. She’s like Flo Jo in position, ready to dart out to Rockefeller Center.


Ira Madison III So what I also did point out, by the way, the difference is Kelly Rowland lives in Los Angeles, and flying in with a team and probably different wardrobe changes is more difficult than Rita Ora being in New York at the moment and just running over already dressed. And most celebrities who do the Today show, if you’re in New York, you’re probably just getting dressed at home. You’re not doing other things within a dressing room where you need it.


Louis Virtel Is she still a Tyga?


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Okay. You don’t really hear about them anymore. I hate when you like. Literally. The other weekend, I was like, are Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin still together? They are. You just never hear about the two of them. We’re just focused on the Madame Web of it all right now.


Ira Madison III Well, if you follow Rita on Instagram, you see photos of her with Taika. But I will say the fervor of I’m dating Taika Waititi. We’re getting married. Sort of stopped after the wedding.


Louis Virtel Right, right. Just like in real life. Yes. Good. Good luck to them. Good luck to them.


Ira Madison III I want to talk about another Wendy moment that I don’t know if you remember. Do you remember what she called Monica?


Louis Virtel The singer Monica?


Ira Madison III Monica hung up on her. Yes, I hung up on her because, there was a thing, I guess, Wendy used to do where she would try to call the celebrity but pretend it was somebody else.


Louis Virtel Oh, my God, that is.


Ira Madison III Because they knew it was Wendy. If they knew it was ready, call it, they would not take that call.


Louis Virtel And what? What did she claim to be like? 1-800- flowers?Like what? What excuse did she have?


Ira Madison III I forget exactly, but I know there’s also Mariah Carey hung up on her words.


Louis Virtel She would just mix it up with these people. She both also. That’s the other thing. She clearly did love them, but then also was not enamored of them. That was the difference between Wendy Williams and most like celebrity interviewees.


Ira Madison III Yeah, there’s there’s still this sort of need for a lot of people. I mean, look at us.


Louis Virtel Please.


Ira Madison III Somebody comes on the show, they’re likethe first thing out of their mouths. That is the best thing anyone has ever said about me, as we spice them up with the intro.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right.


Ira Madison III And then we just Keep It going. You know, it’s rare that someone comes in. It’s rare that a celebrity, by the way, even goes on an interview with someone who they know that they have tension with.


Louis Virtel Right. And, yeah, why would they put themselves in that position, you know.


Ira Madison III And now that there’s several channels, now that social media exists, it’s just so much easier for celebrities to control their own narrative. That way, you don’t have to experience the tension of sitting down with Wendy Williams or being on her radio show, etc. because you could just speak to the public yourselves.


Louis Virtel right. MNow Ziwe, of course, is an exception to this rule, and she plays with tension, and the whole point you would get on the show is tension is the gimmick. That said, I don’t know what form she’s going to take in the next couple years. We had Zoé do the, what Jorge Santos thing, but I don’t know what’s happening for her in the future.


Ira Madison III But I would also say there was more tension in the Instagram Live.


Louis Virtel Yes. Right. Right, right.


Ira Madison III Because, because because there were the comments from the people watching. And there was the sense that this was a little bit more dangerous. You know, the Jorge Santos thing didn’t feel dangerous to me at all.


Louis Virtel No. Right, right, right. He arguably even kind of won in a certain way since, you know, he’s among the worst public figures we’ve ever had. And he came out of it looking, you know, like a witty build a bear, which is what he’s always dressed like.


Ira Madison III Which is also what do you think about the fact that have we even been talking about Jordan Santos since then? No, that was his last gasp of here’s a platform that I’m on and people can see that I’m funny, but even that he’s not important enough to keep going.


Louis Virtel So the point is, Wendy Williams, what you stood for, what you still stand for. To me, important. Honestly, she’s an important figure.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And I just hope that this documentary, if anything comes out of it, someone in the family who actually cares about her gets control over her again. And also, if you get your money at Wells Fargo, pull it out. Okay? That’s the other message of this Wells Fargo. Well, you can say Wells Fargo got my money. I kept flashing back to undergrad at Loyola, and I was like, you know what? Wells Fargo gets to fuck with my money to.


Louis Virtel The Music Man really set up unrealistic expectations about the Wells Fargo to me, Shirley Jones, I blame you.


Ira Madison III The Wells Fargo wagon. Let’s talk about it. Next we have Danai Gurira joining us to talk about her return to the Walking Dead universe in the new spinoff series The Ones Who Live. And we’re also going to talk to her about theater, etc. so we’ll be right back.




Ira Madison III Our guest today is a hero of the modern era. You definitely know them from The Walking Dead from the Black Panther. But lest we forget, she’s also a U.N. Women Goodwill ambassador and a Tony nominated playwright. So truly, she can do it all. She’s back on our screens in The Walking Dead, the ones who live. And we are so thrilled to welcome to Keep It the incomparable Danai Gurira. Hello.


Danai Gurira Hi. How are you guys?


Louis Virtel I am fabulous, how are you, Danai?


Danai Gurira Thank you. That’s very kind. Introduction. I’m good, I’m good. Doing well.


Louis Virtel I still think of The Walking Dead as a new show because it is, you know, so state of the art. You would never watch this show and think it belongs anywhere else in time but the present. The show has now been on so long. You are like the Frasier Crane of zombie characters. Just generations of you on this show. When you began your journey with this show, did you ever think it would be this long lasting, this epic?


Danai Gurira I had no idea I had. It’s always like, you know, for me, with acting, it’s always kind of unexpected, like, oh, where did this come from? Okay, this is great. It’s just always the sort of thing where you. I could never have thought of this show or this character. And if you’d asked me before, it just came to me, and then I was like, oh, my God, I really love what these people are doing. I loved the show. I’m scared of horror. So I hadn’t watched it. I came in season three and caught up because I really was in love with the character on the page. To imagine that it would go that far. I did not think that way because all I was thinking was, can I get through this Georgia heat swinging around this four foot sword and stay alive another day? That’s what was going on in my head day to day.


Louis Virtel Not many people get to ask themselves that question. Wow, what a rare moment.


Danai Gurira No, I guess yes it was.


Ira Madison III And then I have to ask you, though you exited the series after Andrew exited as well. But now your characters are reunited on The Walking Dead, the Ones who live and what’s it like to finish playing a character and then to rejoin again? Were you prepared to play the showrunner again?


Danai Gurira Yeah, I mean, the thing that we had done was as as Andy exited, he said he wanted to complete the narrative in a different form for his character and, and wanted to to, of course, do that with me. So when he left, that was sort of on the page. And then when I left, it was sort of a contractual thing. I was going to come back and do. We both left with sort of a, definitely with a dot dot dot, to the story, him seeming dead but not being and my character, finding proof that he was still alive and, seeking to, to and not being able to cross to not to to let that go as she would as we know, she is not that type of person. She’s because she doesn’t see a mission through. So, especially concerning him. So she definitely, was always it was always a plan to complete their narrative. We the form it took in the time it took was a whole other story, but the, but the planned for there for it to accomplish when we, we we looked at is accomplish what you proposed. You propose that these characters, have this, you know, epic love and they are you know, she’s finding he’s still alive. We know he’s still alive. So we knew we knew ultimately we had to come and complete the narrative in some form. But stepping away for, you know, or the different reasons we did, from the mothership, we we knew ultimately, though, the characters would be the wig and the sword would be returned to action.


Louis Virtel Now, you said when you started this show you didn’t watch horror, did you? Over time, become more interested in the genre or have you stayed away from it? Generally speaking, unless of course, you’re, you know, wielding a sword. You know.


Danai Gurira I, I still have have no interest in it. I, I really don’t I find I don’t have a very active imagination, especially at night. So. And I like to, I like sleep, like, I don’t want to wake up and start thinking about, okay, let me go check. Let me just go check. That door’s locked one more time. You know what I mean? Like, I just what, like, I get very hyperactive in the imagination, so I don’t like horror. Still, but I, I don’t mind being a part of it. It’s very strange. I was just at the Saturn Awards a couple weeks ago, and it was this full of people from all these genres. And it’s it’s quite a cool bunch of folk. But I still can’t. I could hang with them on that realm, but just not on the screen. I did grow to love the work that, you know, Greg Nicotero is fantastic. You know, special makeup artist, for our show who created all that, that amazing gore, and I did. Grow to love the the artistry behind what he did and the gore itself, and how much, how many times one has to be covered in it. Dead or alive on that show? So, you know, I grew to love the artistry behind the horror, and that made me sort of, beat like the it was tamed in terms of my experience of it. On the screen for for that one show. But everything else. No, I’m still I’m still not into it. Not into horror. Still.


Ira Madison III Well, one thing I want to ask you about, we know that you are this amazing actress, but you are also a really fucking good playwright. And I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of your work. And I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing you in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Oh my gosh. Aujanue. Oh, yeah.


Danai Gurira Oh my God.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Yes, I saw that production, and I believe that was your Broadway debut, and that’s one of my favorite plays by August Wilson. And I want to ask you about being a playwright. What interests you about the craft and crafting your own characters, and then what freedom you feel then stepping into other things and not having to worry about any of that?


Danai Gurira Well, you know, actually, I, I really that’s so funny. You saw that play was so long ago. That’s amazing. And I just saw I saw Aunjanue recently, and we were just reminiscing about it. She’s also from my grad school, so we were little, a little bit of a little family. So it was just so great to catch up with her and really excited for all that’s happened with her. But, yeah, it was, I do. It’s funny you mentioned August Wilson because as a playwright, there are times I turn to him for when I have writer’s block because there’s something so unapologetic about his voice, not because I’m trying to imitate him, because I never would. Who could? But it’s more about the fact that he has such a clear, unapologetic voice from the world that he’s illuminating. And sometimes one needs a reminder and, of their own unapologetic voice. And I’ve always found him to be such a powerful, manifestation of that for for myself as a black writer. But, yeah, the reason why I started to write was because I just simply could not find any narratives that told the stories I wanted to tell. It was really necessity being the mother of invention. I just was like, I can’t find, stories. I grew up, I was I was born in the Midwest that I, my parents were here for university, and then my my father was a professor here. And then I moved to Zimbabwe when I was five, six years old. So I grew up there, came back here for college, and I’ve been here ever since, largely, and was largely like, where are the stories around? You know, when I’m studying this craft, I couldn’t find the stories around African women or just that were multi-dimensional. That didn’t put us in very objectified roles. And, and I found that really problematic and unacceptable. So I just had started doing it myself. And, but then I found great joy in that, because the joy often is when you see people that you, you know, that often don’t get lead roles, get a lead role. There’s one actress, Pascal Armand and, Tony nominee from my play eclipsed. She, was also in a play of mine called The Convert. She was a lead in that. And, you know, she that she’d been acting and really a very respected, theater actress in New York for many years, but she hadn’t had a lead role till, you know, till I gigs, till she got the role in The Convert. And that’s often what happens with black women, you know, is that they don’t get to helm a narrative very often. And what that’s kind of what’s giving me the most pleasure and the most joy is to see black women get to stand in the center of a narrative and, and be that protagonist, be that character you, you take the journey with and, not be on the side, not be supporting, not, you know, but be the helmer. And we’re so obviously capable of that. But it’s surprising how rarely it happens. And Pascal is just such an example of that, type of issue. So that’s actually where I find the most joy and where I keep feeling the need to continue to create is there’s so many stories that I feel haven’t been told and don’t get told. And, and there are so when they land in my head, I have to pursue them because, I feel it will bless many, and many black women like me.


Louis Virtel Lupita Nyong’o also nominated for a Tony for eclipse, we should mention, and I want to say you brought we brought up Aunjanue Taylor, who was just in this movie origin, which IRA and I discussed, on the podcast. We were talking about just how awesome it is to see somebody, a lead character whose whole thing is although there’s an emotional component to the story, it’s really just about somebody who’s intellectually curious. And I was wondering, what roles have you just seen wherever in plays, movies, whatever that you think, oh, thank God that’s out there. Are there any, roles, performances you’ve seen recently that speak to this need? You have to like, roles that are cool, that you would, that you yourself would have, like. To have written, perhaps.


Danai Gurira Oh, wow. Yes, that’s such a brilliant example. And of course, the astounding, filmmaker Ava DuVernay is so brilliant at that as well. And, you know, she’s just been navigating that terrain to perfection. Oh, God, you put me on the spot with that.


Louis Virtel You had to create so many characters. I, you know, I’m sure it’s rare that, you know, you know, enough come around for you to just watch.


Danai Gurira Yes. Yes. I’m just trying to think of what I’ve watched recently. I’ve been. I’ve been in a bit of a hibernating writing mode. You know, I was thinking, what is the black Griselda? That’s what was going through my mind recently. I don’t know. But that’s just. That was a random question.


Yeah. Now I’m wondering.


Danai Gurira I mean, I know, I know, she exists. I have now I’ve got to go find her. Hopefully, you know her stories. You know, she I hope you I will be out of her, but, in terms of her or if she has an active operation.


Ira Madison III But I just, I think, like, you know, in the black.


Danai Gurira Realm. But, yeah, I think, definitely stories like, you know, stories that allow black women to just be all things. I thought, you know, I think, of course you think of things that Viola’s done. That’s a beautiful example. You know, even with her show, How to Get Away With Murder. And then, you know, even recently with the Woman King, you know, that’s that’s when we’re starting to crack into new into new examples of how. Yeah, yeah, show us in all of our all of it, all of our complexity. Let it be out there. Let it be unapologetic and let us navigate and helm the damn story.


Ira Madison III It’s interesting when Black Panther came out, and even when your character debuted in Walking Dead, I feel like you spearheaded two characters who were unlike black women we’d seen on TV before. I think ushered in this new genre of just being able to see black women play characters like this. I think of The Woman King as something that is probably beneficial to Black Panther. Are you seeing more just fulfilling characters in television and film that you’re being offered? And more for, other women that you work with and consider peers and friends to be able to get those roles as well. Coming to that.


Danai Gurira Thank you. Yeah, I think definitely, there are these more and more examples that come out the more and more it becomes like, obviously this should be done and that should be done more and more. And you’re seeing it. You are you definitely are seeing more things like this where, you know, the story is being told from a black perspective and even often from a female perspective. We’re starting to see that a little bit more and more. It’s inching. It’s inching, but at the same time, you know, in my, my native tongue, my parents language, Seana, which I wish I spoke better. There’s a word that means that is a word that is a penny bassa, which means there is work to be done. And that’s what I, that’s what I feel when I hear you ask that question. I just, I just think Canibus, you know, like, there’s still a lot of ground to cover. There are a lot of things that, you know, are still hard to get done and out there and, and there’s still, you know, that that aspect of saying, yes, we have let the story be complex, let it be complicated. Don’t try to simplify to a generalized ideal of blackness. You know, that’s I think that’s where we’re still, we’re still pushing and, and, you know, so Canibus but there has, there has been work done and I’m, I’m thankful to have been in any way, shape or form part of that work. But, you know, we have a lot of work to do. Definitely.


Louis Virtel Also, so last year you got to play Richard the Third and Shakespeare In The Park.


Ira Madison III That was so fucking good.


Louis Virtel So you saw that? Okay. I can’t get to see it. Right. It does that. I mean, like, that’s the perhaps the epic stage role of all time. Is that an experience that lingers on you? Is it something you ever expected to do?


Danai Gurira No. It’s nothing ever expected to do. And I will say when I when Oscar, you just called me and said it, I just cracked up laughing. I just laugh because he’s been trying to get me back on stage for a long time. And I was like, now he got me because this was I was like, this is going to be a hard one to say. No. How do you say no to that? Right. But at the same time, I just couldn’t say yes because I was like, this is that is absolutely terrifying. And I was terrified and I just I didn’t give them an answer for months, him and Robert. And then I finally was like, you know, I just thought, man, I don’t know. I think it was Sidney Poitier had recently passed and there was some it was an interview. I saw him say he said something to Oprah, and I said, girl, get off your butt and go do that die roll. Like, you know what I mean? This this man navigated at the time that he did, you know, get off your butt. Don’t do that thing. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hardly ever do I. Like, do I miss the guy? I miss the guy. I do miss the guy. You know, he was he’s a he’s terribly, terribly big. But you understand a lot. I have a at the same time, which I don’t know what that means. So you know, but I just, I really did, I had a really it was very it was hard as heck. And it was, it was very rewarding and I, I, I remember him fondly. I said, he said.


Louis Virtel Well, also, I mean, it must be a relief to know it. It probably could not get any harder than that. I mean, truly, what else is there out there unless you, like, performed like the entire or a stay out, like right in a row or something, you know?


Danai Gurira Yeah. It was. It was extremely hard and it was so hot. And I remember I was arguing. I had to argue that my wonderful, costume designer, Danai, I hadto go there because she wanted to put me in leather pants? I was like, girl.


Ira Madison III I was like, all right.


Danai Gurira All right down the river, okay? Like I’m running up and down the street for two and a half, three hours. Like, I can’t do that. She ever even look would have been cool, but I was like. So I had to. So, you know, it’s just all types of things that go into it. Like they were recording it for PBS’s Great Performances and and my director, Robert O’Hara, whose idea this was, he was like, he also directed my first play ever. So we’re old friends. And and he was like, you know, we got to do something about how much did I sweating by the end of the first scene? Because she ain’t gonna like how this looks on camera on television. So yeah, it was, it was it was work. I mean, I think I, I don’t have any cons. I dropped just doing that role. But at the same time, I always wanted to do the hardest thing, the action thing. And he was like action. Plus all the language you could ever want. And I do love I do love Shakespeare. And I always, you know, had a affinity for it to some extent. And so, done Shakespeare in the Park before and loved that performance. I mean, I love that experience, though she’s the opposite. She was a nun of a virtuous nun, Isabella. So I think I’ve done the whole gamut in two roles, but. Yeah. And I just I love the people I met. They’re one of the amazing actors I met. Matt Jeffries, who you will meet, the show, The Ones Who Live, because I just, I was working with him and I was like, oh, no, this he’s gotta he’s got to come. He’s got to come into the into the Walking Dead. I mean, what the heck? And I just told my two co-creators, Andi and Gimple, I said, I have we have the not the not as a character my character gets very close to in the show as she looks for Rick. And I was like, I think I found him. And and Gimple came and saw the show and and agreed. So, you know, it was I made some really there’s some beautiful, wonderful people I got to know and and I’m very thankful for that.


Ira Madison III What do you love about theater the most that are your works? Any playwrights that you’re really enjoying? Any sort of stories that you enjoy watching that are not the stories that you want to tell, but stories that you’re like? It is nice to sit in a theater with people and enjoy this story communally for a couple hours.


Danai Gurira Oh yeah, there’s so many great playwrights. I just, just was just celebrating my dear sister, Jocelyn Biel. She. Her play was just right on Broadway.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, she loved playing it.


Danai Gurira Yeah, yeah. And we were, you know, she’s she’s a, you know, someone I’m, you know, working, developing works with and someone I really adore. And so to see her work sort of fly like that and you know, they were that’s sort of a story that really gets me because there were women who are immigrant, hairdressers coming down from Harlem and going into the theater and, and seeing themselves in this great white way. That’s, that’s literally cool. And, and really being able to celebrate themselves and, and a reflection of the narratives and the stories that they carry. And that to me is, is so powerful. And then, of course, going out to such a massive audience at the same time as it did. So I’m really I was really thrilled by her, by this, that accomplishment for her. And, you know, I recently watched Phantom as well, which I thought was fantastic. I would watch that while we were shooting. The ones who live that was kind of our reprieve was to catch some theater here and there from shooting outside in freezing Jersey. So that was another fantastic piece of work and another and did did that thing that I love, which is it played on the classic, you know, it took a classic and made it its own, which, you know, I love that because I grew up, you know, in a very neocolonial educational system in post-colonial Zimbabwe. And, you know, so if if you’re going to like, shovel this western, you know, you know, content down my throat, you know, I’m going to make it my own and figure out my way in. And it might be it might seem quite irreverent and and and so be it. And thank God if it does, you know, because it should. And so I love I love that type of, of way of getting at it. There’s so many there’s so many. Great. All right. So right now I don’t think I’m going to blank on it all. But it is. There are some you know, of course, I mentioned, you know, the word evolve in a lot of ways of course. And I love Lynn Nottage is not just like a mentor of mine. And has said words to me that have caused me to just choose, you know, what a one little said that she said did for me. You know what I mean? She’s just one of those. And with such an astounding, generous heart and spirit and brilliance at the same time. So everything she writes, it’s like, you know, you’re just in a masterclass. And I just, I adore her.


Ira Madison III I definitely recommend, Dominique Maurice’s new play, Sunset Baby. Oh, I love. Yes, yes. So, yes.


Danai Gurira You just opened. Yes. Oh, fantastic. Yes, yes, I love Dominique. I’ve been trying to get her to go to Zimbabwe, cause I have a nonprofit there where I take Americans to teach, and, we’re just figuring out the right time for it. But, yeah, she’s, she’s incredible. And I think she’d be amazing.


Louis Virtel Now. Of course. Before we let you go, Black Panther is, of course, not live theater. But the way those movies are structured, everybody gets such incredible acting moments that I feel like on set, you must just get to be face to face with people, you know, giving their all giving like Broadway size performances for the screen. You are, of course, incredibly arresting in these films. Do you have any favorite on set moments watching other people act?


Danai Gurira Oh yeah. Yeah yeah, yeah. I came in, watched a scene, where Letitia, is basically telling, Baku, that he is going to fight in her war, and I just, I mean, I loved I was just in I was just floored. It was just so brilliant. And, you know, the the story, you know, we do a lot of shaping of those scenes there in front of the camera on the day, you know, so, you know, I didn’t know what was about to come out of her as she was being shot, you know, you didn’t know what was going to come out and what she came through with and how she nailed that, was so powerful. There were a couple moments that Winston Key, you don’t see it on screen, but he teared up because it was like, damn, like to see this power coming out of this, this young woman. And in a way that is very it’s full of vengeance. It’s full of war. It’s full of a sense of destroying. I want to destroy that man and that and that other place, you know what I mean? So he was so moved by just being in her presence. And I watched that and was just like, God dang, I just love this place. I love what I do for a living to just watch those things come to life, you know, was really, really powerful. That’s one that jumps to my mind immediately.


Ira Madison III Thank you so much for being here. I mean, I could go on and on. I could go on and on.


Louis Virtel I’m sure. I’m sure. No, I remember the scene so specifically to. So I’m like, watching it as you’re describing it.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. Oh, my God, you’re such a fabulous interviewee, too.


Danai Gurira Oh, thanks for having me. It’s been really fun. Appreciate you guys coming up.


Ira Madison III Dialog and movies, good or bad?




Louis Virtel So over the weekend, Denis Villeneuve, director of many of our favorite movies the past few years, including a rival Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, where I believe Jared Leto just showed up and they filmed an entire movie around him being weird. They’re like, you want to dress in gold? Great. Stick around. He said this frankly, I hate dialog. Dialog is for theater and television. I don’t remember movies because of a good line. I remember movies because of a strong image. I’m not interested in dialog at all. Pure image and sound. That is the power of cinema. But it is something not obvious when you watch movies today. Movies have been corrupted by television. Okay, first of all, bitch, don’t you ever put television in theater in the same breath again? Television is for entertainment. Theater is art. Movies are art. Theater and movies go together. I have to say, I actually I’m sort of grateful to hear this perspective because it’s clarifying. Like when you see people come out of the criterion closet, they’re talking about like, old or touristic movies. I feel like they’re routinely talking about images more than they’re ever talking about characters and dialog and stuff. And it’s just a school of thought that I believe exists. You know, that movies are about image and sound and feeling enveloped. It is just not really why I go to the movies. I am truly dialog oriented. I am way more Mike Nichols oriented than Stanley Kubrick oriented. And, I don’t know. How do you concur with this perspective at all? What do you think of this?


Ira Madison III It’s very interesting because I feel like as a person who has written for television, as a person who grew up on American films, the way that we did, especially queer coded films, it’s all about snappy dialog. It’s all about people interacting. And I love theater as well, obviously, but. As I’ve been dipping into film more obviously within college, when I was watching certain films or trying to, educate myself on certain foreign films more. There is something to be said about the fact that non-American films do rely on images a lot more. And I will say that when I’m thinking about. Film. It is a lot of these striking images that do hit me first before the dialog and dialog is good, but when I think about my favorite directors like, Almodovar, for instance, it’s all about those bright colors, the images, the costumes, you know, the the staging. And I mean, just speaking of another Denis, Claire. Denis, a French director. That is all about the image. I mean, both revel, like barely has any dialog in it. Right? And Stars at Noon. The dialog is from Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn, and so you’d rather not listen to it anyway.


Louis Virtel I have the feeling Margaret Qualley is going to win an Oscar in the next, like 6 or 7 years, so bite your tongue, I wager. Maybe not. I hear Beanie Feldstein is good that I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s just literally all of my favorite movies. It’s about the dialog. Ultimately, like All About Eve doesn’t exist without the dialog. Even, Rear Window, a suspenseful movie which has plenty of spectacle in it, lots to look at, is about character dynamics before it is about being terrified, I think. I also wonder if you’re like a film scholar and a filmmaker, if sound and spectacle, if those are the kind of things you’re more impressed with yourself for achieving. Whereas I don’t know that there are many people who pride themselves most on capturing, I don’t know, a conversation or just somebody talking in a fascinating way, even though that’s what I like most about movies. You know, I’m still recovering from Woody Allen sucking. That’s like, that’s the mode of film I prefer. You know.


Ira Madison III I think there’s also something to be said, though, about people who do both writing and directing. Yeah. You would never say that a Tarantino film is not about the images in it.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III But you also would never say his films aren’t about the dialog.


Louis Virtel Right. He is definitely equally obsessed with both. Like he loves the snapping this as he is clearly a snappy person. In fact, he looks like he’s going to snap most times you see him, but then also.


Ira Madison III He’s a turtle.


Louis Virtel Yeah, but also he’s obsessed with old movies and contributing things and then making things splashy than they ever were before. You know, what I like about Tarantino refuses to be bored. That’s something I do appreciate about him.


Ira Madison III Except for The Hateful Eight. So, yeah.


Louis Virtel This is the world’s longest. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I also did a disservice to Almodovar even there, because his dialog is also snappy and it’s funny. And that comes from the tradition of melodramas and telenovelas. And I just think that you brought up All About Eve, and that comes specifically, though, from a period where there was more of a blur between radio dramas, theater and film, people writing dialog, and there were obviously beautiful, gorgeous images in probably more gorgeous images in Hitchcock than I would say. And All About Eve. I actually don’t really remember much of the visuals and All About Eve, to be honest. I mean, I remember most scenes and moments when you’re, like, visually stunning. I don’t know how visually stunning it is, to me, but that’s also just coming from when films were black and white as well. You know, you’re not taking in all of those images. It’s before Technicolor. So it is about the dialog. It felt more theater based. And I feel like as America started moving towards Technicolor, there was color and images and there’s also dialog. But then you had a whole school of people like Godard, or even I don’t know how much dialog is really in most the Bergman films are about the images a lot of times, too, but they’re also about a conversation, too, so I don’t know, it is. It is an interesting question that I feel like a lot of people were having fun with online, right? Some people were like, well, you know what? That’s true. But then also there are people who just prefer movies that have dialog in them, and there are some people who really just only want that visual spectacle.


Louis Virtel I think also there’s just a difference in how people learn. Like some people, I consider myself more auditory, so the way people speak is going to resonate with me more. Whereas if you are entirely visual, I don’t know, maybe conversations fall on deaf ears, though I have to say, it feels crazy to me to say you don’t like dialog, but maybe it’s with. Here I am getting into just pop psychology, the love languages thing, how some people are words of affirmation, and then some people aren’t that they’re something totally different. All I am is words of affirmation. Please write a poem about me. That’s what I.


Ira Madison III Want.


Louis Virtel But some people, I guess, don’t respond to that. I think words are just filling the air and not taking this dynamic anywhere.


Ira Madison III I mean, what’s the last time he did dialog anyway? Was at that talking fish and maelstrom?


Louis Virtel I would say arrival has some good, dialog scenes are you would not hire Amy Adams if you weren’t didn’t care about dialog.


Ira Madison III But that’s all about the board, too. You know, it’s all about the visual ness of the aliens.


Louis Virtel Oh, sure. No, no, no, it’s an unmistakably awesome looking movie. I do not mean to take that away from a rival, but if you don’t like dialog, does that mean you kind of don’t like actors like that? You think they could kind of be anybody, like in the Hitchcock way where you’re like, well, they’re cattle to me.


Ira Madison III I honestly kind of feel that way about him. Yeah. To be honest, when you think about Dune, when you think about the way he talks about film, I think it’s all of maybe a little bit sort of incidental to him, the actors. Case in point. I just saw Tenet again, yesterday it was re screening for a week in Imax because the whole narrative around Tenet was people didn’t really get to enjoy it while they were watching it at home, during Covid. And now you can really see it on the big screen. And unfortunately, that bitch was correct, because now I do love tenet so much. But what you hear, there was a conversation that Nolan, had with Denis, after a screening at Imax, and I watched it on YouTube and just their conversations where he was were Chris Nolan was talking about working with the actors, versus where Denis was talking about working with the film. There was definitely an emphasis on the spectacle for him, as opposed to working with actors like he talked about. He storyboarded the film and, writes the script, and then based off of the new storyboard for it, rewrites the script. So it’s really about getting these visual images, working, you know, and Nolan talked about how the scene where John David Washington’s fighting himself. Right. They did that one first. They did not use any reverse camera work on that. So what happened is John David Washington learned that fight two different ways. He learned it the regular way. And then he learned that the inverse way. If you know tenet, like it’s about the inverse time going backwards when you’re, you know, I get the movie now, but it took me a minute. I was very stoned the first time I watched it. But he learned that two different ways, and it was about him working with the actors, and, I don’t know, I think from him doing Oppenheimer as well. And that very, serial killer know that he left, Killian Murphy’s script. It was, finally a lead for you now, which was I.


Louis Virtel That seems like something a mean gay director would do. Like Truman Capote. He leaves that to one of the swans or something.


Ira Madison III But. Even that the he is a person who likes dialog because there are so many quiet moments in Oppenheimer. Oh yes. People speaking, you know, and it’s I think that he is a well-rounded director where he loves the dialog and he also loves the visual spectacle of a movie. But. Yeah. I mean that’s, that’s a, that’s a harder one to really sort of parse because obviously I love dialog. And there are certain films I love with dialog, but there’s also some films where I just really love. Letting the images wash over me. And I do think at the end of the day. Film is more about the visuals than the dialog.


Louis Virtel I mean, I think it’s hard to be empirical about it, but I think Oppenheimer is a good example of like the middle of the movie when it’s about the bomb and the the suspense, waiting for that moment to happen, you know, the world ending sort of mushroom clouding, Oppenheimer’s vision coming to be. And then the last half of them, over the last act of the movie, the everybody sort of testifying. That’s when the movie, to me, becomes like a play, like it’s, you know, it’s compelling in the way something like 12 Angry Men might be or, you know, something from the 50s where it’s on stage and everybody gets a turn to talk and we’re just, you know, the as the audience were being clued into all these different perspectives and, you know, finally hearing from Emily Blunt and, finally hearing the true intentions of Robert Downey Jr, you know, these these reveals that all come through conversations. And I think that’s ultimately why I like I prefer dialog in movies over spectacle is because it just it reveals something about the character itself, which I find to be the most exciting part of a movie. You know, like, now I’m learning what that person really is.


Ira Madison III That’s fair. But I would also say that a lot of the colors or a lot of costumes sort of reveal who people are too. So I don’t know, I think there’s just a different school of thought up people who love one or the other. And I think more often than not. A French director just isn’t going to give a.


Louis Virtel Fuck about truth. I do have to say the Frenchness is coming into play here, I think. And also, you know, if you don’t like dialog that much, I think maybe therapy is for you. I don’t know, I feel like maybe you could tap into something here that will help you ultimately in your journey to.


Ira Madison III Be a person. Actually, this may stem from the fact that there’s a TV show that I still don’t know if it’s happening. And maybe, he decided that he didn’t want to do it anymore. But Villeneuve was supposed to be directing an HBO series that was announced in 2020, produced by Jake Gyllenhaal, being written by Jonathan Nolan. This was announced in 2020, but I haven’t heard anything about it. So maybe he tried his hand at television and said fuck this.


Louis Virtel I would actually love it if that were the case because, you know, when I watch something like the SAG Awards and the TV actors are just mingling with the movie actors, I get uncomfortable. I mean, I truly think they should have different catering. I’m sorry the Sandra Bullock has to be around like Modern Family alums. Does that sound right to you? I don’t think so.


Ira Madison III Well, you know, Sandra, who is going to be on Only Murders in the building probably at this.


Louis Virtel Point, I’m going to leave the studio. I need to not.


Ira Madison III You know.


Louis Virtel Not here. I guess if Meryl’s there, it makes it okay. By the way, Meryl and Martin Short, should we talk about that? I’m sorry. So they lied to us. This is clearly dating or something.


Ira Madison III Well. I feel like that’s beautiful for them.


Louis Virtel It sure is. It’s arguably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen. Let us in on it. We’re watching it. You’re beloved.


Ira Madison III I need to catch up on all the murders, and then maybe I’ll be more invested in that relationship.


Louis Virtel Oh, okay. But, I mean, I just like her, her slyness, by the way, at the SAG Awards this weekend, she did, like, a physical bit where she pretended to bump into the mic and she said she forgot her glasses. Girl, that was some commedia dell’arte shit. I believe that.


Ira Madison III All the good Devil Wears Prada reunion, right?


Louis Virtel Yes. And they came in with, like, her glasses and her bag. That was fucking awesome. She really did go to Yale.


Ira Madison III You’ve got me thinking now about the divide between film and TV. Who are people who have not done TV yet?


Louis Virtel Truly know she did. Mrs. America limited series. Does that count? I guess it does.


Ira Madison III Because she also did Mildred Pierce.


Louis Virtel No, that was Kate Winslet.


Ira Madison III Yeah, that was Winslet. Yeah, the Kate’s right. Honestly, that’s the same bitch. Okay. You can. That is some Hannah Montana shit going on. I’m sorry.


Louis Virtel And they both starred in Woody Allen movies. Way too late. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yes, I can’t say. Well, Robert Downey junior did.


Louis Virtel Daniel Day-Louis. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Daniel Day-Louis. Well, he’s not doing anything right.


Louis Virtel No, he’s like, I assume painting or something.


Ira Madison III It’s a great I walking around New York, in a Gen Z outfits. Right? It’s what he’s doing.


Louis Virtel Exactly. Probably looking amazing at 67 or whatever.


Ira Madison III But I think that he may be one of the last holdouts of people who just have not done television. I mean, Meryl’s done it. Now, Julia Roberts has done it right.


Louis Virtel No. It’s upsetting. I believe in these bifurcations. This is where I believe in a binary. This right here.


Ira Madison III Has Gyngell done TV? Yes. Yeah. Denzel started in TV. Yeah.


Louis Virtel Oh, yeah. Denzel is a pretty good answer, though. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah, but because I feel like maybe Denzel and Clooney, I feel like these are people who started in television. And then since the transition to movies, have not gone back.


Louis Virtel Right, right, right. No, I can’t imagine. Oh.


Ira Madison III Tom.


Louis Virtel Of course, Tom cruise. Yes. Which is crazy, because you would think he would. I mean, we have movie. There’s like a Jack Reacher TV show and stuff. There’s plenty of things he would be a fit for on television, especially in this age of spending tons and tons of money on a streaming series.


Ira Madison III But yeah, well, I feel like the Mission Impossible movies are basically a 27 season running TV show at this point. Yeah.


Louis Virtel No kidding. Exactly.


Ira Madison III All right. When we are back, Keep It. And we’re back with our favorite segment of the episode. And I would be remiss to say that our producer told us during the break. Leonardo DiCaprio.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III Since Growing Pains has not been back on television, he’s produced a lot of things, but.


Louis Virtel He’s like, keep me off the small screen. He’s like, don’t watch me on your phone, bitch. He and Marty are like, fist pumping on that.


Ira Madison III Marty, though, has done TV.


Louis Virtel Girl, he threw vinyl at us and I’m still injured.


Ira Madison III And remember Boardwalk Empire, right?


Louis Virtel Which might still be on. There’s no telling and it’s rude to ask.


Ira Madison III Never has there more. But a show where people were continuously telling you about its importance while it was on the air, and now, since it’s gone off the air, I haven’t heard a single person talk about Boardwalk Empire.


Louis Virtel And by the way, where is Paz de la Huerta? The honest question. And I believe we should be concerned for our safety.


Ira Madison III What is your Keep It this week?


Louis Virtel Oh, right. The show. My Keep It is, involving an album I’m listening to obsessively. Again. I bought it when it came out. It’s now 20 years old. I said I didn’t really care for confessions having a 20th anniversary. Renaissance. And the internet was upset. You know what? Good. Good for them. They should have spoken up. I’m glad.


Ira Madison III But I’m trying to read it. That. Yeah.


Louis Virtel I did not know. I said it on the podcast here. After Usher’s Superbowl. But I have been listening to Gwen Stefani’s love angel music. Baby. And. All Things considered a pretty perfect pop album except for what I’m going to say, my Keep It to Keep It too long. Way to go with Andre 3000 D final track on the album, I don’t I can’t think of another album like this. Maybe Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa, where up until the last track, it is flawless. It is a it is an artistic vision that is very narrowed in its, you know, Gwen Stefani had this very candy coated designer esthetic that was both winking and gleefully, legitimately stupid. She went for it and the pop hooks were popping. I mean, like, What You Waiting For is produced by Nelly Hooper, who did all of Bjork’s singles from the early 90s like Human Behavior and It’s Always So Quiet, and did Bedtime Story by Madonna. You had Cool, which has a wonderful video. You had Hollaback Girl, which is, of course, one of the great radio songs of all time, and a a fun rejoinder to Courtney Love, allegedly, who wouldn’t stop making fun of, Gwen Stefani at one point? But you get through the album and there are so many lovely songs. The Real Thing is a great, non single. Serious is a great non single. Then she makes an attempt at racial healing, which I’m just going to say she is not capable of achieving. And long way to go with Andre 3000 where she says when snow hits the asphalt cold looks and bad.com. Is that supposed to be written like something from the Harlem Renaissance? Because she. I don’t feel as familiar with the works of Langston Hughes. I don’t know what she was going for with those lyrics. Cold looks and bad.com.


Ira Madison III A first of all, that is a direct lift from County.


Louis Virtel Colin okay, I clearly I’m unfamiliar. It’s been I haven’t been to college in a couple of years. Or like we jazz and Gwendolyn Brooks writing. Come on.


Ira Madison III That song going back 20 years when this album first came out, when I first got my little hands on L.A. Emby.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes. Nice, nice.


Ira Madison III I remember getting to that song and. Recoiling.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III And going, what the fuck? It sounds weird because it came out around the time of Kelis’s album.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Tasty and Andre 3000 has a song on that album with her called Millionaire, which is one of my favorite songs, but they are talking about, capitalism, and, you know, being a rich bitch and telling the truth to your friends, etc. all the things that, rich people, celebrities think about all the time, right? You know, if I were a millionaire, would you still love me? That kind of vibe. And I think that that song is probably more suited to. Gwen Stefani and. And Andre. Yes. Yeah. If it were. And maybe Kallis and Andre 3000 could have done a better version of Long Way to Go. But I also think that that song really should not exist. I love the beat. It’s the definition of I like the beat, but it is one of the most embarrassing pop songs that I’ve ever had to listen to.


Louis Virtel It’s like saying, look, the bread on the sandwich. I mean, put anything else on, please, please. It. And then the Girls Will Be Girls and Boys Will Be Boys. The final song of Future Nostalgia sort of has a similar, like an attempt at saying something that just feels a little stunted and a little not thought out. But. Yeah. No. But otherwise, man, I really do love, love Angel Music, Baby. And actually The Sweet Escape too, though I can’t think of another sophomore album that sounds more like the songs that didn’t get into the previous album. Like literally one at a time. The songs are not as good as What’s On. Love Angel Music, Baby.


Ira Madison III You coming for Yummy?


Louis Virtel Yummy is maybe the best thing. I love Early Winter also. Yeah, Gwen is a balladeer. Energy. That’s something she and Madonna have in common, where they they strike the image of just, you know, a bubble gum pop star. But actually there’s balladeer angst that makes them a little bit deeper than the average person you hear on the radio.


Ira Madison III Let us not forget Fluorescent.  A friend of mine.


Louis Virtel Another song that sounds like a Madonna song. Yeah.


Ira Madison III My friend played fluorescent at a party. Like my friend who was DJ played fluorescent a few weeks ago, and. I was for a second. It took me a second to register that. That was that song and Awful Sweet Escape, because it was such a throwback. And there were people coming up to him ask, who is this? Or is this a new Gwen Stefani song? And we’re like, sweet skate, baby. Yeah. So that and it’s so much of her first two albums have endured in a beautiful way, and I hope we get just the good ones when she does Coachella. Yeah, right. I do not want any of that Blake Shelton shit.


Louis Virtel The unholy union did I already bring up recently that she was inaugurated into the Orange County Hall of Fame, which feels like one of the shadiest accolades a person can receive.


Ira Madison III Her and Vicki Gunvalson. Oh, no.


Louis Virtel Not that Kennedy Center Honors.


Ira Madison III Last thing about L.A.M.B. That song is also such whiplash for their really fun song that they have on the album Bubble Pop Electric.


Louis Virtel Oh yes. Oh yes. Right. A very silly, song where it’s sort of it takes it’s like a 50s, make out in our car vibe, except. Just deliriously naughty.


Ira Madison III Johnny, get out of here.


Louis Virtel That’s characters. Yes, characters. Yeah.


Ira Madison III This is 2024, and 2004 was a big year for pop music, and especially for us with leaving high school. Right. Going to college. So I don’t know, I feel like every 20th anniversary this year is going to hit okay.


Louis Virtel Ashlee Simpson, we speak your name. Come out of hiding.


Ira Madison III Autobiography.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. The shadow, she will be belting that one.


Ira Madison III I think she announced that she’s going to be doing something. Tours, or at least a couple shows in New York or LA to celebrate, autobiographies. 20th anniversary. I recently saw her perform. Well. Performance. Generous. I saw her get into the booth with Ty Sutherland, who was playing a couple of her songs. Pieces of Me and La La at the Christian Siriano afterparty during fashion week. She hopped up, did not remember the words to LaLa, unfortunately. She was having that mike around. Yeah, but Pieces of Me she knew perfectly. She has not hit TikTok because someone, Gen Z turned to me and said, just in the audience said, who is this.


Louis Virtel Unacceptable? And does this mean we’re due for a Kara DioGuardi renaissance? My fingers are crossed. Honey. It’s time. Well, where are you? I want to know where you are.


Ira Madison III Well, Katy Perry is leaving Idol, so.


Louis Virtel Oh, there’s a slot open. Oh, please return.


Ira Madison III Coming back. Yeah, but Kara’s.


Louis Virtel Such a war torn. Kara DioGuardi coming back to American Idol. Ira, what is your Keep It this week?


Ira Madison III My Keep It this week goes to a cinematic trainwreck, as I call it. Mea Culpa. The new Tyler Perry film, which aired on Netflix.


Louis Virtel And you went for that. You went ahead and watched it, which is a controversial thing to do with a Tyler Perry film these days.


Ira Madison III Okay, first of all, what a Tyler Perry film hits. It hits. Okay, I thought I was going to get Acrimony. I thought I was going to get Temptation. Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. Those are two very bad movies which are very fun to watch. Okay, I did not think I was going to get anything of the level of I can do all by myself, because that one seems to at least have an emotional hook. It’s a story about Taraji P Henson as a single mother struggling to make it in the music industry, but this is in his new vein of lifetime s thrillers. Okay, just with hot people in them. This stars Kelly Rowland, who is absolutely gorgeous.


Louis Virtel Oh, she is so gorgeous.


Ira Madison III Yeah, like one of our hottest celebrities. They’re they’re routinely in photos with Beyoncé. Kelly Rowland is the person who my eyes go to.


Louis Virtel Take that I hope Beyonce takes that.


Ira Madison III Beyonce is hanging out with TikTokers trying to solve out of hair care a lot. Okay, if you have 50 followers. You met Beyonce this week.


Louis Virtel Right? Yes.


Ira Madison III But I will say that Kelly is also a very good actress. I feel like I just wish that she was in something better than this. I would also say the same for Trevante Rhodes, who is also a gorgeous man, was very captivating in Moonlight, is very beautiful to look at in this film. Unfortunately it’s garbage. And more than garbage because garbage could be fun. It’s boring as hell.


Louis Virtel Now that is a word I do not associate with Tyler Perry. So I do not know how that happened.


Ira Madison III And this gets me to Tyler Perry’s recent comments about how AI is going to be awful and ruin the industry.


Louis Virtel That interview is extremely confusing.


Ira Madison III It’s extremely confusing because he talked about how he had used AI himself.


Louis Virtel Right? And he’s like, oh, I was going to buy $800 million worth of land to expand my studio so I could film all the time, but I’m not going to do that anymore because AI is going to change everything. We have to do everything in our power to stop it. Except I also am not paying money to do the thing that would help stop it.


Ira Madison III Also, it sounds like your films are already being written by AI.


Louis Virtel Right. Right. I is doing a really good job with you, unfortunately.


Ira Madison III Need I remind you that everything is written? Produced by. Directed by Tyler Perry, lighting by Tyler Perry, hair by Tyler Perry. Bad wigs.


Louis Virtel Woven by Tyler Perry.


Ira Madison III There is, there is no there. He doesn’t have real crews. He doesn’t have writers that he likes to pay less. We forget his whole beef with the WGA from before. So I don’t know. It seems like Tyler Perry worried about I is noble, I guess, but he’s such a fucking lunatic, right? I’m sorry you hate AI, but you’ve used AI. You’re making these bad movies. You don’t want to pay crews. What are we even doing here? The. And it’s so unfortunate too because I know, like, I know my mom probably loved it.


Louis Virtel Well, someone probably did. I mean, like, he’s going to keep making them, obviously. So the internet told me this week that when he tries calling Aretha Franklin, Aretha Franklin makes him do the Madea voice on the phone, which is a good way of reminding you who you are when you’re talking to Aretha Franklin. Do you get to be a little voice? Okay.


Ira Madison III That’s enough. She’s by now she she said, get it right. Yes.


Louis Virtel You won’t be zooming her.


Ira Madison III I have been spinning that song nonstop for the past month, by the way. Get it right. Get it right. Oh, yeah.


Louis Virtel I’m very obsessed with, Aretha Franklin’s jump from the original sparkle soundtrack and number one.


Ira Madison III But anyway, this is just peak Tyler Perry sounding the alarm about I. When you admitting that you’ve used it into all of your films already.


Louis Virtel Right? He’s very like, outside of bounds of the conversation we’re trying to have. Yes.


Ira Madison III He is. He is who he is, you know.


Louis Virtel Pretty good in Gone Girl, I have to say.


Ira Madison III Get back to acting, be right.


Louis Virtel And being like seventh build.


Ira Madison III Yeah. That and he was also one of the only good parts about that Netflix movie, the one where he was in a.


Louis Virtel Don’t Look Up.


Ira Madison III With Cate Blanchett.


Louis Virtel Don’t look up. Yes. Yeah a movie we tried to give a Best picture nomination to. And then we did. And then society got a little worse.


Ira Madison III Yeah. You know, it’s the white American fiction.


Louis Virtel Yeah. There we are. Ding ding ding. Wow. We really thought that was really something Leonardo DiCaprio was passionate about. Makes you think.


Ira Madison III Well, he doesn’t love the environment.


Louis Virtel Right? I assume they sent him a big script that had just, a piece of masking tape on it and, in pen the environment written on it. And then he was like, oh, I’m interested. And then he picked it up and read it.


Ira Madison III I remember that whole period where all we used to get from news stories about Leonardo DiCaprio was about how he cared about the planet and about how he was getting solar paneling in his LA mansion.


Louis Virtel No, I told you, once upon a time, I wrote a prize for Billy on the Street, which was a signed bag of the environment by Leonardo DiCaprio.


Ira Madison III Actually, maybe that’s why he dates such young women, right?


Louis Virtel You think it’s like a recycling thing?


Ira Madison III He’s caring about the future. The whole recycling thing. He. Now he believes that children are our future. Oh, I see, I see. Yeah. Teach them well and let them lead the way in which building a team of Planeteers, I see.


Louis Virtel Talk about somebody who needs a Wendy Williams interview. Leonardo DiCaprio. That is exactly what we are missing from the 20 1020 tens.


Ira Madison III All right. That’s our episode this week.


Louis Virtel Thank you to the amazing Danai Gurira. I mean, somebody who’s on a TV show that long. Also a Tony Award nominated playwright who has done it like her, who has.


Ira Madison III Let me tell you, Tyler Perry.


Louis Virtel Oh! Damn it. Fuck. I don’t even think of him. Yeah.


Ira Madison III So she’ll never be him. She’ll never be glamorous. Unfortunately.


Louis Virtel She can do actually really well all by herself about that.


Ira Madison III Yeah. All right. We’ll see you next week. Don’t forget to follow Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. You can also subscribe to Keep It on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review.


Louis Virtel Keep It is a Crooked Media production. Our producer is Chris Lord. Our executive producers are Ira Madison, the Third, Louis Virtel, and Kendra James. Our digital team is Megan Patsel, Claudia Shang, and Rachel Gaeski. This episode was recorded and mixed by Evan Sutton. Thank you to Matt DeGroot, David Toles, Kyle Seglin, and Charlotte Landes for production support every week.