Welcome to Now What? with Carole Zimmer. It’s a podcast about big life decisions, transitions, how to re-invent yourself, inspiration and how we wind up navigating all those curves in road.
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Episode 29: Judy Collins 10/10/19
Judy Collins made her debut as a classical pianist playing a Mozart concerto when she was 13. But folk music stole her heart in the days when Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were capturing the bohemian spirit. In the 60s and 70s Collins recorded songs by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Stephen Sondheim. And there were songs written about her like Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, a big hit for Crosby, Stills and Nash. We talk about love gone wrong, eating disorders, alcoholism and musical legends on this episode of “Now What?”
Episode 28: Eve Ensler 09/11/19
She's already lived many lifetimes in this one life. 21 years ago, Eve Ensler wrote the ground-breaking theater piece, "The Vagina Monologues," about a woman’s most private parts. She founded a community in the Congo for women who were raped. The first time I spoke to she for “Now What?” she had she won a near-fatal battle with cancer. And in this episode, Ensler talks about another shocking aspect of her life: how she was sexually abused by her father from the time she was 5 years old and how she views that relationship now.
Updated Episode: Chirlane McCray 8/21/19
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a long-shot candidate who’s running for President. On the campaign trial, de Blasio talks a lot about his interracial family and raising a black son. I had the opportunity to speak to his wife, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, about the challenges she’s faced as a mother, her own aspirations of running for office and what’s it like to be a private person in the public spotlight. It’s all in an updated version of my interview with Chirlane McCray on this episode of “Now What?”
This interview won the 2019 Clarion Award for Best Feature Program.
Episode 27: Abigail Disney 07/25/19
She’s an heiress to her grandfather’s fortune. He co-founded the Walt Disney Company. She’s also a philanthropist who has given away more than $70 million. And Abigail Disney is a Twitter queen. Her tweet storm went viral when she called Disney CEO Bob Iger’s $66 million salary “insane.” And expressed her fury about what she calls the poor working conditions and low salaries of the people who take your tickets at Disneyland.
Episode 26: Michael Pollan and Timothy Leary 06/16/19
Listen to this truly historic episode of "Now What? which features best selling author Michael Pollan and Timothy Leary. Leary comes to us by way of a 1980 interview I did with him about turning on, tuning in and dropping out. We talk about how LSD has become trendy again and whether psychedelics have the potential to lead to a new world consciousness.
Episode 25: Mary Pipher 05/15/19
It’s a subject that’s been on my mind. Older women. They’ve been the target of jokes forever. Now that I’m a little older myself, I’m not so sure I like that. And neither does clinical psychologist and bestselling author Mary Pipher. Pipher wrote a seminal book about adolescent girls called “Reviving Ophelia.” Now, she’s traveled to the other end of the age spectrum with “Women Rowing North.” It’s about flourishing as we age. To round out our conversation I invited my young friend Haley Zimring to join us. Haley is 28 and has two young children. So here we are, talking young and old and all the stages in between.
Episode 24: Pa. Lt. Governor John Fetterman 03/27/19
He's a big guy in more ways than one. John Fetterman is 6' 8." He got a reputation as America's coolest Mayor when he tried innovative ways to revive the little town of Braddock, Pa. Now Fetterman is the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Unlike most politicians, he’s isn’t boring. He’s downright inspiring. I went to Scranton to attend one of Fetterman’s listening sessions about whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Afterwards, we talked about why anyone would want to be in politics in 2019, how art can lead to social change and why one of his favorite moments is getting whacked in the head by his son’s nerf gun.
Episode 23: Ali Velshi 02/27/19
Ali Velshi is co-host of the MSNBC show Velshi and Ruhle and anchor of Live with Ali Velshi. He’s also the voice you hear in the Intro to Season 7 of Homeland who says “The mood of the country. It’s not great.” It’s a good thing Velshi has a sense of humor. Stephen Colbert has referred to him as the “business reporter from our hairless, raceless future.” True, Velshi is bald. Born in Kenya to parents of Indian descent, Velshi is also an immigrant and a Muslim. We talked about all that, fake facts and the future of the planet and on this episode of “Now What?”
Episode 22: Joe and Jill Biden 01/22/19
When it comes to Democrats running for President in 2020, most polls show Joe Biden in the lead. Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate and two terms as Vice President. He’s always been known as a regular guy with the nickname Middle Class Joe. Biden told me, “They don’t mean it as a compliment. They mean you’re not sophisticated. But we’re pretty damn sophisticated. We built the country. The middle class.” Biden is also no stranger to tragedy. Nearly four years ago, his son Beau died of brain cancer. I had the privilege of sitting down with Joe and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. We talked about cancer, loss, hope and whether he will make that much talked about run for the Presidency.
Episode 21: Danny Glover 12/05/18
I didn’t know much about Danny Glover before my friend Eric Werthman got the chance to make a movie with him. Glover has had one of those careers that just keeps going with more than 165 TV projects, plays and movies including “Lethal Weapon” which really put him in the Hollywood orbit. This year you can see him in the indy “Sorry to Bother You” and Robert Redford’s “The Old Man and the Gun.” On Glover’s lunch break, I found out what he’s really passionate about. It’s not acting or movie making. It’s the years he spent as a community organizer and all the social issues he really cares about.
Episode 20: Mandy Patinkin 11/01/18
You probably know him best as Saul Berenson, the CIA operative on the Emmy-award winning series "Homeland.” But Patinkin has had a long career on stage and in film. 30 years ago he starred in “The Princess Bride.” Who could ever forget “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Carole Zimmer talked with Mandy Patinkin about his life-long love affair with music and what’s really important in life.
Episode 19: Ayelet Waldman 9/26/18
Writer Ayelet Waldman may not go looking for controversy but it knows where to find her. In a New York Times Modern Love essay Waldman said she loved her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, more than her children. That outraged the mothers of America. Mood disorders have long ruled Waldman’s life leading to vicious Twitter spats and deep dives into depression. Then she decided to take micro-doses of LSD. We sat in her kitchen and talked about what a little acid did for her marriage and her manias.
Episode 18: Chirlane McCray 7/18/18
Chirlane McCray is probably the most interesting first lady in the country. She’s married to New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio and they have two children Dante and Chiara. There are good reasons to stay away from interviewing politicians. They tend to talk in sound bites or trap you in their talking points. But McCray is actually willing to look you in the eye and have a conversation. Listen to what McCray told me about what it was like to be the only black student in her high school, how she fell in love with her husband and what you have to do to hang on to a private life in the glare of the public spotlight.
Episode 17: Elizabeth Sackler 5/23/18
Some art critics have called Judy Chicago's monumental work "The Dinner Party" crass and vulgar. That's because the ceramic plates highlighting famous women in history have wings and petals that evoke the most intimate parts of a woman's body. Elizabeth Sackler rescued the art installation from the darkness of storage when she bought it for the Brooklyn Museum. This is the story of two women who changed feminist art forever.
Episode 16: Isaac Mizrahi 4/12/18
He likes loud colors. He likes to mix ball gowns with combat boots. Isaac Mizrahi went from producing couture fashion to designing a line for Target before signing an exclusive deal with the home shopping channel QVC which he says is more relevant to women than high fashion anyway. He’s also the star of the award-winning documentary “Unzipped” and a cabaret singer. We met at his Greenwich Village office where Mizrahi pulled out all the stops talking about what it’s like to grow up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, $1600 tee shirts and why he’s always felt more like a woman than a man.
Episode 15: Sheila Nevins 3/8/18
Be careful what you wish for. When I do these podcasts, I’m always looking for an experience in the moment with the person I’m talking to-something real, nothing canned. And what an experience I had spending the afternoon with Sheila Nevins. The woman who spent 35 years at HBO reinventing how we think about documentaries is no shrinking violet. She’s funny, competitive and extraordinarily accomplished. Who else do you know whose work has been recognized with 65 Emmys? I can promise you a unique experience listening to Nevins’ take on facelifts, what women have to do to get ahead and dreams about what’s to come.
Episode 14: Lacey Schwartz 1/11/18
Lacey Schwartz grew up in Woodstock, New York with her parents Peggy and Robert. She went to the local schools and celebrated her bas mitzvah at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. With her darker skin tone and curly hair, Lacey always looked different than most of her friends. Her mother said she resembled her Sicilian great-grandfather. But when she was a teenager Lacey found out the truth about her identity. She turned her coming of age story into a film called “Little White Lie.” I went to see Lacey Schwartz at her home in Rhinebeck, New York where she lives with her 4-year old twins and her husband, congressional candidate Antonio Delgado. We talked about family secrets, race and the power of denial.
Episode 13: Alan Alda 11/15/17
Who doesn't like Alan Alda? His father was a Tony-award winning actor and from the age of 3, Alda says he knew what he was going to do when he grew up. He first made a name for himself playing Hawkeye Pierce, a surgeon in a mobile operating unit during the Korean War on M*A*S*H. Alda has worked for directors like Martin Scorsese in "The Aviator" and Steven Spielberg in "Bridge of Spies." And there were the political roles including Senator Arnold Vinick on "The West Wing." Alda has also written best sellers and been married to the same woman for almost 60 years. He talks to me about what it's like to live in other people's skin and what he wants to leave behind when he's gone.
Episode 12: Norman Lear 9/27/17
This was a thrill for me, the opportunity to talk to Norman Lear. In LA, I opened Google maps and sailed onto the 405 in my rented Nissan, managing not to collide with cars whizzing by in 5 lanes and made it all the way to Lear’s Beverly Hills office. In the 70s and 80s, he was the king of television creating one hit series after another including Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, Maude and the ground breaking All in the Family. Now, Lear, who turned 95 in July, has sold a new show to NBC about adventures in a senior community. We had so much fun, singing, laughing and talking about what it means to live in the moment and what happens when those moments run out.
Episode 11: Jane Pauley 08/23/17
She was barely 25 when she became the co-host of the Today show. Jane Pauley was the girl next door ... the one you hoped your son might marry. Then a younger, blonder woman made it a little too crowded on the set and Pauley moved on to co-host the news magazine Dateline. A series of severe mood swings eventually led her to a stint in a psychiatric ward. But Jane Pauley is a woman who's all about re-invention. Now, she’s starring in another high profile role ... host of CBS Sunday Morning. We talk about her journey in television and how life always manages to pack its share of punches.
Episode 10: Elizabeth Lesser 07/24/17
Even as a child, Elizabeth Lesser was drawn to matters of the spirit. Always a seeker, Lesser co-founded the Omega Institute, a center for holistic studies and is a frequent guest on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday. Lesser began her career as a midwife witnessing the many wonders of birth. In her latest book “Marrow: A Love Story,” she explores the other side of that equation. When Lesser’s younger sister Maggie got sick, Elizabeth turned out to be the perfect donor for a bone marrow transplant. The crisis helped the women to leave the past behind and love each other unconditionally. I went to see Lesser at her home in Woodstock, New York. We talked about fate, sisters and the ties that bind.
Episode 9: Gideon Irving 06/22/17
In this episode of “Now What?” you’ll hear from Gideon Irving who travels around the world performing his show in peoples’ living rooms. It’s a mix of song, magic and stories that Stephen Sondheim has called eccentric and exhilarating. In New York Gideon used roller blades to get to his shows … shlepping his harmonium, an Indian style shruti box and a musical saw in a shopping cart. He spent 4 months in New Zealand going from home to home on a bicycle. And he’s planning to spend a year on horseback, riding through what used to be called the Wild West, stopping at homes along the way. Did you know there are still horse motels? Gideon and I had a lot of laughs making up songs and talking about the true meaning of the word adventure.
Episode 8: Lesley Stahl 05/22/17
Lesley Stahl started her career at CBS in 1972, a year when networks began to feelthe pressure to hire more women. In that same year, Stahl made a name for herself covering Watergate, the scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s administration. She went on to cover the White House in the Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations. For the past 26 years, Stahl has been a 60 minutes Correspondent reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan, collecting 12 Emmys along the way. She says one of the best days of her life was going to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The other best days have nothing to do with the news. They’re all about her grand children Jordan and Chloe. I went to 60 Minutes to talk to Stahl about why her walls are covered with photos of little children and why being a grandmother is the best assignment she’s ever had. It’s all on “Now What?” which was produced with help from Nick Ciavatta, Gabe Zimmer and Steve Zimmer.
Episode 7: Kelly Carlin 4/3/17
Kelly Carlin’s father George went from being a stand-up comic who did safe routines to a counter culture comedian whose “7 dirty words” routine went all the way to the Supreme Court. George was the guest host of the first Saturday Night Live show ever broadcast. He did 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO, wrote three best sellers, won 5 Grammy Awards and is idolized by comedians like Louis C.K. But it wasn’t easy being the daughter of a brilliant comedian who spent too much time away from home and used too many drugs. Kelly Carlin is author of the memoir, “A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George.” I went to see Kelly at her home in LA. We talked about comedy, addiction and how the Buddha was right when he taught that life is full of suffering as well as joy.
Episode 6: Nicky Vreeland 12/29/16
He wears orange and burgundy robes and he’s the only Westerner the Dalai Lama has ever chosen to be the abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Vreeland is also the grandson of long-time Vogue editor and queen of fashion Diana Vreeland. The son of a diplomat, Vreeland spent his early life in Europe chasing women and driving fast cars. After moving back to the U,S., he apprenticed with master photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. That was before Vreeland decided to become a monk, shave his head and move to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in India. There’s a movie about Vreeland’s life called “Monk with a Camera.” I’d seen it. That’s how I recognized him walking down the street in Manhattan and asked him to be on “Now What?” Listen to what Vreeland told me about mortality, celibacy, the Dalai Lama and the experiences in life that are really important.
Episode 5: Carl Reiner 8/10/16
At the age of 28, Carl Reiner co-wrote and acted on Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar. One night, driving home on the East River Drive in Manhattan, Reiner decided to write a situation comedy based on his own family life. The series, which became the Dick Van Dyke show, ran for 5 years and won 15 Emmys. In the 60s, Reiner teamed up with Mel Brooks. They began doing a comedy sketch at parties. Reiner was the straight man and Brooks was the 2000 Year Old Man who had 42,000 children and not one of them ever came to visit. Reiner also directed Steve Martin in “The Jerk” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” Now, at 94 he’s writing two books. I spent an afternoon with Carl Reiner at his Beverly Hills home where he told me he always wanted to be an Irish tenor and then burst into song.
Episode 4: Eve Ensler 4/12/16
Her 20s were tumultuous, filled with drugs and alcohol. She was a waitress. She cleaned houses. Then she wrote “The Vagina Monologues,” a theater piece that changed the lives of thousands of people, especially her own. It’s been published in 48 languages and performed in more than 140 countries. Ensler also founded a community for women in the Congo and survived a near fatal battle with cancer. Check out our conversation about the emotional distances she's traveled, what happens when you see too much, gratitude and why she likes nothing better than constant change.
Episode 3: Karen Allen 1/18/16
She was still an acting student when she landed a part in a movie called Animal House starring John Belushi and her career took off. Then she was Marion Ravenwood, Harrison Ford’s love interest in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But when she decided to leave NYC for the country, Karen Allen’s movie career took more of a detour than she expected. So she opened a yoga studio and started her own textile company, making cashmere sweaters on a Japanese knitting machine. I went to see Karen Allen in the little town in the Berkshires where she showed me around the charming house she lives in that was built in the 1700s and was once a barn. We spent the afternoon chatting about re-invention, karma, the downside of facelifts and why she wants acting and directing to be at the center of her life again now that she’s 64.
Episode 2: Robert Klein 12/06/15
He’s been doing stand-up for 50 years and he’s sometimes called the comedian’s comedian. For Jay Leno, Robert Klein is a comic hero. “He was a guy who I felt was like me. Middle class, normal parents. Watched the same TV shows I watched and that was a big change in comedy.” Jerry Seinfeld points to Klein as one of the most “intelligent, coolest comedians around.” I caught up with Klein in upstate New York where he was appearing at the Woodstock Comedy Festival. Turns out we had a lot in common. We’re both from the Bronx, our mothers used to throw quarters out of the window so we could get ice cream and we both worked as substitute teachers. Check out our conversation below.
Epsiode 1: At Home With Gloria Steinem 10/20/15
In this first episode, you’ll hear from someone who has changed the world for women and keeps on changing it. We got to spend an afternoon with Gloria Steinem shooting the breeze in her cozy Manhattan brownstone.
It’s Gloria like you’ve never heard her before. We went into her closet and checked out her black motorcycle jacket with the spikes, talked about mortality, Ms. Piggy and all the things that make Gloria Steinem laugh. Now What was produced with help from Nellie Gilles, Nick Ciavatta and Allison Bernstein.