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Cinderella, Animated and On Stage

Two extremely popular versions of the Cinderella story were produced in the 1950s. Both are now available on DVD, and classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz has a review.

08:24

Other segments from the episode on December 7, 2005

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, December 7, 2005: Interview with Stephen Colbert; Review of two versions of the film "Cinderella."

Transcript

DATE December 7, 2005 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Stephen Colbert talks about his new show "The
Colbert Report" on Comedy Central
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Stephen Colbert has fulfilled the dream of every fake news correspondent to
host his own fake news program. "The Colbert Report" premiered in October and
airs Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central right after "The Daily Show"
with Jon Stewart. Stewart serves as an executive producer of "The Colbert
Report." Stephen Colbert had been a senior correspondent on "The Daily Show"
best-known perhaps for his regular segment This Week in God.

His character on "The Colbert Report" is a parody of patriotic confrontational
cable TV hosts. In the opening credits we see him looking very
self-important, waving a flag as a bald eagle flies overhead. Here's an
excerpt from the first edition.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report")

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT: But this show is not about me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: No, this program is dedicated to you, the heroes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: And who are the heroes? The people who watch this show...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: ...average hard-working Americans. You're not the elites.
You're not the country club crowd. I know for a fact that my country club
would never let you in.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: But you get it and you come from a long line of it-getters.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: You're the folks who say, `Something's got to be done.' Well,
you're doing something right now. You're watching TV.

(Soundbite of laughter, cheers and applause)

Mr. COLBERT: And on this show, your voice will be heard in the form of my
voice...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: ...because you're lookin' at a straight shooter, America. I
tell it like it is. I calls 'em like I sees 'em. I will speak to you in
plain, simple English. And that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Stephen Colbert, welcome back to FRESH AIR. I love the show.
Congratulations on it.

Mr. COLBERT: Thank you very much.

GROSS: So let's talk about your character, the Stephen Colbert who hosts "The
Colbert Report." How would you describe him?

Mr. COLBERT: He is passionate. He is closely attached and invested in the
stories he's talking about and in the themes that he's talking about. He
cares deeply about what happens in this country and he just doesn't know a lot
about what happens in this country. And so he gets little--you know, little
glimpses of things. He has little snatches of information and then he makes
broad generalizations based upon that.

GROSS: He...

Mr. COLBERT: Like, you know, he hears that, you know, Verizon is going to not
give the pensions they promised to some of their workers. And he goes, `That
sounds like a good idea. You know, pensions, what's that? That's just
privatized Communism.'

GROSS: So that's why--because he doesn't really understand everything.
That's why he's into truthiness instead of truth.

Mr. COLBERT: Right, he's not a huge fan of facts. You know, I said before,
like it's really more about what you feel in your gut, you know. It just--it
makes sense that the world is flat and that the sun goes around us. I look
up. I see the sun move. I don't see us move. You now what? Ockam's Razor
says the sun moves. Simplest answer is usually the true one.

GROSS: You know, the truthiness editorial that we opened with, I think it's
really brilliant at describing how some political hosts on cable relate to the
audience. There's a sense of like you flatter the audience, you seduce the
audience and then you insult the people you see as your opposition...

Mr. COLBERT: Exactly, it's...

GROSS: ...in the hopes that you've won over the audience. They're on your
team and now you can just like go after your enemies.

Mr. COLBERT: I mean, one of the sort of unintentional puns of our show is
that it's called "The Colbert Report" (pronounced re-por) and it plays, you
know--unintentionally plays on the word rapport, you know, R-A-P-P-O-R-T,
which is, you know, a sense of understanding between the speaker and the
listener. You now, we're the same people. You and me, we get it. You know,
the rest of those people out there, they don't understand the things we
understand. The show is like an invitation to the audience to be part of the
club. Come over here with the cool kids. You know, it's like--it's kind of a
frat mentality.

GROSS: Right, and you not only love your country, you love yourself.

Mr. COLBERT: Well, absolutely. I mean, by loving--yeah, by loving myself, I
am loving my country because I'm one of the country.

GROSS: One of the--obviously one of the people you've patterned yourself on
in "The Colbert Report" is Bill O'Reilly.

Mr. COLBERT: Papa Bear.

GROSS: What's your take on him?

Mr. COLBERT: He's a magnificent performer. I don't know if he--my take on
him is I don't actually know whether he believes everything he says other than
the fact that people are attacking him. I think he believes that he's a
victim of some sort of conspiracy to take him down because he doesn't toe the
party line on things. But I think he's an entertainer, you know. I think
he's extremely entertaining. I mean, I watch the way he talks and I just
think, God, I wish I could capture some of that, that self-assurance, the
ability to talk about anything. It's something we're trying to capture on the
show. I mean, the show's still in its infancy. We've run 23 shows at this
point. But he can talk about anything and it's important because he's talking
about it. And that is something we're working very hard to capture on the
show because it will allow me to talk about anything I want to talk about and
not have to be so tied to what the news cycle is on a day-to-day basis.

GROSS: You've even gotten some of his mannerisms, too, I think, the way he
uses his hands. You've done that no spin finger twirl.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah, well, it's good. Yeah, we'll it's very invasive, you
know. It's right toward the camera. He's an imposing presence and I'm
not--he's like 6'--I think he's 7'4". He's an enormous guy and I'm not. So
I'm trying to do everything I can to get that sort of imposing quality he has.

GROSS: What else have you noticed about the way he makes his arguments when
he takes a stand?

Mr. COLBERT: I mean, I think very often he prefaces his arguments by saying,
`You're not going to hear this from anybody else.' Or `I'm not going to make
any friends by saying this.' Or `They don't want me to say this to you. They
don't want you to hear this, but this is what I'm going to tell you.' And
`I'm looking out for you,' you know, as if everything he's doing is completely
altruistic and only for the good of the audience. And that's a wonderful
attitude to have because it establishes trust between you and your subjects.

GROSS: Bill O'Reilly's Web site has a list of media operations that have,
quote, "regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied
by far-left Web sites. The New York Daily News."

Mr. COLBERT: About him, right? About him. Like he has a list of like--he
has a hit list for people who have said things untrue about him, one of which
is The New York Daily News that he has a column in...

GROSS: SO...

Mr. COLBERT: ...which is a wonderful little dissonance there.

GROSS: Yes, he names The New York Daily News, the St. Petersburg Times and
MSNBC as the worst offenders. And he says, `In the months to come, we expect
to add more names to this list. We recommend that you do not patronize these
operations and that advertisers do the same. They are dishonest and not worth
your time and money.' Will you be starting a defamation list?

Mr. COLBERT: We've already got ours out there. The Patterson Springs, North
Carolina Picayune we're going to take down. The Edgefield Advertiser from
Edgefield, South Carolina, I've had a problem with them ever since they didn't
back Strom Thurmond, a hometown boy back in 1954. Yeah, absolutely.
Absolutely, that sense of victimization is just wonderful for the character
because it allows you to be both a champion and a conqueror and a victim at
the same time. I mean, you've got all your bases covered.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Stephen Colbert and he now
hosts "The Colbert Report," a new fake news program right after "The Daily
Show" on Comedy Central.

In our first interview, you explained that you patterned your senior
correspondent reporter on "The Daily Show." You patterned him, in part, on
two people, Stone Phillips and Geraldo Rivera. So I was delighted to see that
your first guest on "The Colbert Report" was Stone Phillips.

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, me, too. It was like he was smashing a metaphorical bottle
of champagne across our figurative prow.

GROSS: And, you know, you explained when you were on the show the last time
that one of the things you borrowed from Stone Phillips was the sense of
gravity. You know, when he reads something, it is important.

Mr. COLBERT: Absolutely.

GROSS: And so you did this kind of gravitas reading of headlines with him and
I'd like to play an excerpt of it.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: Stone and I will now--may I call you Stone?

Mr. STONE PHILLIPS: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Mr. Phillips and I will now read random snippets of news copy
to show you that if you possess sufficient gravitas, what you are saying
doesn't have to mean anything at all.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Before we begin, I want to make it clear that even though Mr.
Phillips and I are trading lines back and forth, this is in no way a
competition. But I also want to assure the audience that it's perfectly all
right to applaud for whomever you think is winning.

(Soundbite of laughter, cheers and applause)

Mr. COLBERT: Let the gravitas begin.

Mr. PHILLIPS: Tonight shocking revelations in the case of an Ohio school
principal whose filing cabinets held gruesome secrets.

Mr. COLBERT: Then...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: ...with night falling and just one flare left, would Armando be
able to keep the coyotes away from his leg?

(Soundbite of applause and cheers)

Mr. PHILLIPS: If you have ever sat naked on a hotel bedspread, we have got a
chilling report you won't want to miss.

(Soundbite of applause and cheers)

Mr. COLBERT: Raheed and MC Fresh Jams were dropping mad beets at the house
party when tragedy struck.

(Soundbite of applause and cheers)

Mr. PHILLIPS: We invited Mother Teresa to respond to these charges.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That's Stephen Colbert and Stone Phillips in an excerpt of "The
Colbert Report." Those sounded like real headlines to me. Those were so bad,
they sounded real. Were they real?

Mr. COLBERT: I wish they were, Terry. No, those were just ones we wrote for
the occasion.

GROSS: So did Stone Phillips know when you invited him on that you patterned
part of yourself on him?

Mr. COLBERT: Yes, yes, he did.

GROSS: Was he honored or offended?

Mr. COLBERT: I--he seemed like a very good sport about it. I think honored
might be too strong a word. I think he was game to play along.

GROSS: We've talked a little bit about Stone Phillips and Bill O'Reilly. Are
there other, like, newsmen or pundits who you feel like you've been borrowing
from on "The Colbert Report"?

Mr. COLBERT: Obviously I would like to look as crisp as Anderson Cooper.
He--ah, he is so put together in brilliant blue ties and sort of silver jacket
and I love that salt and pepper--it's almost all just salt hair. I'd love to
have his look. Let's see, Lou Dobbs, I love--like, he rides the same hobby
horse all--you know, all over the place, like, `our broken borders' or `the
outsourcing of America.' And he does--no problem reporting on the same story
over and over and over again. It really cuts down on having to think of new
things. We're hoping to steal some of that.

You know, Hannity is great. He's so bullheaded, you know. He can just
stampede over his guests in a way that even O'Reilly doesn't. And, oh, the
dear, the lost, lamented Aaron Brown, who is no longer on CNN. Anderson
Cooper took over for his slot, but Aaron Brown I think he's a great source of
metaphor and mulling. You know, I've said before that nobody mulls the news
like Aaron Brown. He would just, you know, suck the flavor out of every word.
You know, `Oh, now that Katrina has swept through these infested swamps in
southern Louisiana, what 'gators roam down there now, be they political or be
they real, sunning themselves on the rocks of the tragedy of others.' He
could spin a metaphor for half an hour.

GROSS: My guest is Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central's new fake
news program, "The Colbert Report." We'll talk more after a break. This is
FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Stephen Colbert, former senior correspondent for "The
Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. He now hosts his own fake news program, "The
Colbert Report," which follows "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.

Let's talk about something that you do every night on the show which is The
Word.

Mr. COLBERT: Right.

GROSS: And why don't you explain what this feature is?

Mr. COLBERT: Every night on the show--at least every night so far--we do--or
I do an essay based upon a single word. The first night, as you--you know, at
the beginning of the show was truthiness. And, for instance, you know,
recently we did one called Xmas, which is about the war on Christmas. And on
the, you know, left side of my screen it has bullet points based upon what I'm
saying in my essay. I'm speaking completely self-sufficient, stand-alone
essay, hopefully comedic. And on the left side of the screen, it's giving
bullet points that are excerpting parts of what I've said or commenting on
what I just said. And the bullet points end up being their own character.
Sometimes they're reinforcing my arguments. Sometimes they're sort of
countermanding my argument. But it's sort of a textual addition of jokes or
satire to the verbal essay I'm doing at the moment.

GROSS: You did your editorial this week on the war against Christmas and
you've been hammering that for a while on the show.

Mr. COLBERT: Absolutely, yeah. Well, I mean...

GROSS: Oh, yeah...

Mr. COLBERT: There are only--only 80 percent of America is Christian and so
they're clearly a persecuted minority and, I mean--and they've got no power
here, other than the president, the Congress and the state legislatures.
But other than that, these are helpless people who are being denied their
right to say `Merry Christmas' to each other. And I think it's time to do
something about it. As O'Reilly said on his show last night, `What people
want when they go into a discount store like Target is to see Merry Christmas
up there. Then they want a dozen tube socks for $1.99. But first they want
to see Merry Christmas up there. That's why they're going to that store. OK.
Are you listening, Target? You're on the list. Watch out.'

The oddest thing is that this is asking for the commercialization of
Christmas. They're asking stores to say Merry Christmas in their advertising
when didn't the Charlie Brown Christmas special tell us we weren't supposed to
do that?

GROSS: Do you feel that what you're doing is like a potent form of not only,
like, news critique but media criticism?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, it definitely is more heavily media than news. Jon and
"The Daily Show" is more news. I mean, they're really tied to the daily news
cycle. And while we are, to a certain extent, our goal is, you know,
eventually to have the kind of viewership or weight that we can actually lead
the news cycle the way O'Reilly does, you know. He determines what's going to
be talked about on that show. This is what's bugging him today, and, in a
way, that's more satire about what the media does than about what's happening
in the news.

GROSS: You know, as you said, one of the differences between what you're
doing on your show and what Jon Stewart does on "The Daily Show" is that he's
talking about the news. You're talk--you're mostly satirizing the media that
covers the news, particularly the TV media. And you have to stay in character
during the whole show. I mean, Stewart can go in and out of character, but
you have to stay in it and you have to completely carry the show. Like,
you're on camera every second except for the moments that your guest of the
evening isn't on. You don't have reporters in the way that he does.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah.

GROSS: So it seems to me it's a...

Mr. COLBERT: I think the correspondents are a--really a drag on a program.
I'm against them.

GROSS: They just take away air time from you.

Mr. COLBERT: They really do.

GROSS: Yeah. So that's really a lot to carry. It seems--I mean, you seem to
be enjoying the show so much, but I--stepping back from that, I think it must
be really like a lot of work to carry that.

Mr. COLBERT: It is a lot of work but I'm not complaining because, you know,
all a performer wants is to perform more. Now we need to figure out a way to
do it that's humane for the people who work on the show. I mean, right now, I
mean, I have two wonderful head writers, Rich Dahm and Allison Silverman and
Allison stayed up till 4:00 last night working on tonight's show.

GROSS: Right.

Mr. COLBERT: And actually working on tomorrow's show. And so right now it's
a little bit like a forced march to get the show done every day because we're
essentially writing--you know, we have a guest who's there for maybe five or
six minutes, but even that is a prepared moment, not for the guest, but for me
because I have to establish what my character's take is on that person's work
or on their writing or what they represent, you know, if we have somebody like
iconic on, like Lesley Stahl from like the mainstream media. But--so it ends
up being like a 22-minute monologue we're writing every night and I think
probably that's an unsustainable level of script output and, you know, we're
finding different ways to, you know, push away from me and--but it's a slow
process.

GROSS: Did you take any of the writers from "The Daily Show" with you when
you started "The Colbert Report"?

Mr. COLBERT: One as a--just as a loaner and Eric Drysdale, he's a great guy
and I've worked with him for years. And he knew the voice of the character I
did at "The Daily Show" and helped sort of, you know, leaven that voice into
the rest of the writers' work. And Jon very, you know, graciously saw how
good Eric was for my show and Eric wanted to stay so he's staying at the show.
And he also plays Bobby, my stage manager.

GROSS: Oh, I was always wondering if that was an actor or a writer or the
real stage manager.

Mr. COLBERT: No, that's one of the writers.

GROSS: He's very funny.

Mr. COLBERT: That's Eric Drysdale. He's very funny. He's a great guy.

GROSS: Well, you know, Jon Stewart is the--is an executive producer of your
show. So how involved has he been in the development of it?

Mr. COLBERT: He's given me a lot of advice on which tie not to go with.

GROSS: That's important.

Mr. COLBERT: I was going to go with a Windsor or a double Windsor but then
I--and then he said, `No, no, go with a four-in-hand. It's much cleaner.
Jon's an invaluable resource for me because the job of being a host is also
the job of being the manager and executive producer and setting the agenda and
trying to see the big picture of the show because, you know, his show and my
show, even though it's still evolving, is more than just a series of things
put together. Hopefully, there's some sort of coherence for me of the
character or of a theme for the evening or some relationship to the guest of
the evening and many's the time I've called and said, `How would you do this?
You know, what--how do you both manage people and be a performer at the same
time?' because it's a new skill for me to learn.

GROSS: Stephen Colbert is the host of "The Colbert Report" Monday through
Thursday nights on Comedy Central. Here's an excerpt from last night's
episode.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: I want to congratulate a good friend of the show, Congressman
Tom DeLay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: That good-looking fellow was victorious today. A Texas judge
threw out one of his indictments. It turns out conspiring to take state
corporate donations, route them through political action committees and then
funnel them back to candidates for state Congress was not illegal when he did
it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Super illegal now, but that means he's off scot-free, except for
the two money laundering charges that still stand. Of course you won't hear
about Tom's good news in the mainstream media. They prefer to paint him as
some kind of criminal. The sad thing is people are listening. There's a new
poll out of his home district. Given the choice between DeLay and an unnamed
Democrat, 49 percent would vote for the unnamed Democrat.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Of course, unnamed Democrats traditionally do better than named
Democrats.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: So don't take those district poll numbers too hard, Tom.
They'll come around. Trust me. I know how to romance a district.

GROSS: Stephen Colbert will be back in the second half of the show.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

(Announcements)

GROSS: Coming up, finding guests in Washington when people in power are
afraid to talk with you. We continue our conversation with Stephen Colbert
about "The Colbert Report." Also Lloyd Schwartz reviews two classic
versions of "Cinderella" now on DVD.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report"; bird squawking)

Mr. COLBERT: Tonight, Americans are living longer and dying poorer. You
should have thought of that before you lived longer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Then I'll sit down with Representative Jim Moran. Yes,
Virginia's 8th District, you do have a congressman.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Plus, Anderson Cooper is here to tell us how he can look so
good standing in three feet of sewage.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: And ABC names their new anchors. CBS, you're the last one with
a shot at this.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Move over, Oprah. Tonight, every member of my audience
receives a priceless gift: the truth. This is "The Colbert Report."

(Soundbite of cheering and applause; music)

GROSS: That's the opening of last night's edition of "The Colbert Report,"
the fake news show hosted by my guest, Stephen Colbert. It follows "The Daily
Show With Jon Stewart" Monday through Thursday nights on Comedy Central.
Colbert is a former senior correspondent for "The Daily Show." Let's get back
to our interview with Stephen Colbert.

As we mentioned, you do an interview every night on the show.

Mr. COLBERT: Right.

GROSS: And you're in character and, of course, the guest has to be
themselves. Do they have any idea of what to expect?

Mr. COLBERT: I tell every guest--I go back and I meet the guest beforehand.
Obviously, I thank them for being on the show 'cause I can't believe how lucky
we get them--you know, we already get the people we do. And I say, `Now you
are aware that I am a professional idiot, yes?'

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: And so far all of them have said, `Yes, I am aware of that.'
And I go, `OK. Well, let's have some fun out there,' you know, and that's it.
That's the entire conversation we have. So other than that, it's a
free-for-all.

GROSS: Well, let me play an interview that you recently did with
Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Detroit--you know, from Michigan.
And this is an excerpt in which you're talking about Hurricane Katrina.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: Carolyn, I'm going to read you a quote from Bill O'Reilly.
O'Reilly said: `The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should be taught in every
American school.'

(Soundbite of "The O'Reilly Factor"; laughter)

Mr. BILL O'REILLY: If you don't get educated, if you don't develop a skill
and force yourself to work hard, you'll most likely be poor. And sooner or
later, you'll be standing on a symbolic rooftop waiting for help.

Mr. COLBERT: `...rooftop waiting for help. Chances are that help will not
be quick in coming.' Why didn't those people on the rooftops stay in school?

Representative CAROLYN CHEEKS KILPATRICK (Democrat, Michigan): How do you
know they didn't stay in school? I think many of them stayed in schools.

Mr. COLBERT: I think O'Reilly here says that they should have.

Rep. KILPATRICK: O'Reilly? Come on. Come on.

Mr. COLBERT: He says that they should have stayed in school.

Rep. KILPATRICK: How does he know? Many of them stayed in school. Let
me...

Mr. COLBERT: He just said it. You don't believe it?

Rep. KILPATRICK: No, no, I believe he said it. Everybody on the roof was not
someone who was heading--not going to school.

Mr. COLBERT: Right. But I guess his point is that they should have stayed
in school. That's his point.

Rep. KILPATRICK: OK.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah. Why didn't they?

Rep. KILPATRICK: Some did.

Mr. COLBERT: OK.

Rep. KILPATRICK: Many did.

Mr. COLBERT: All right.

Rep. KILPATRICK: Many stayed in school.

Mr. COLBERT: But he's saying that they didn't.

Rep. KILPATRICK: I'm telling you, many did.

Mr. COLBERT: OK, but he's saying that they didn't.

GROSS: That's an interview from "The Colbert Report." That was Stephen
Colbert interviewing Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. I think that
was a very funny interview.

Mr. COLBERT: Funny or insightful, Terry?

GROSS: Insightful, very well.

Mr. COLBERT: I nailed her. Me and O'Reilly nailed her together, all right?
I'd like to see her get up from that.

GROSS: What did she say to you when the show was over? Did you talk with her
about the interview afterwards?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, that was an interview I did, actually, in--at Capitol
Hill. I went down to her office ...(unintelligible)

GROSS: Oh. Oh, OK.

Mr. COLBERT: ...the Capitol...

GROSS: OK.

Mr. COLBERT: ...and I interviewed her there. And I don't know--we're doing
a 435-part series called "Better Know A District," about every congressional
district in the United States, and we've done seven of them so far, and she's
the sixth one in that series. And she had seen me interview other members of
Congress, you know, on the air, and I don't know what she expected. I
definitely--what we did was not what she expected, and--but it's amazing.
Congresspeople are just--like most people, they've got a pretty good sense of
humor about themselves. I mean, we laughed and shook hands when it was over.

GROSS: How did you come up with the idea to do a series of interviews on each
of the congressional districts?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, that was necessity being the mother of invention, because
when we first started trying to book people on the show long before the show
went on the air, our booker, Emily Lazar, who's a wonderful booker; she booked
for CNN for years. Of course, she came over a lot. She said, `Well, people
are ready to talk to you, you know. No one will talk to you in Washington,
DC.' And I said, `You're kidding. Well, who would talk to me?' You know,
'cause we were going after big people, and they were afraid they were going to
get Ollie G, you know, sort of ambushed by me with questions. And I said,
`Well, who would talk to me? I mean, God, there's got to be somebody down
there who's hungry enough to talk to a reporter like me.' And she said,
`Well, you know, members of Congress, but nobody you'd ever know.' I said,
`That's fine. Let's get to know them. Let's lead with who will talk to us.'
So we looked at the list of the people who were willing to talk to and there
were, like, eight to 10 people out of the 435, and obviously she didn't call
that many of them.

And I said, `OK, here's the deal. We're going to do a series called "Get To
Know Your Congressman," and I'm going to take these people to task on, like,
minute social issues of their area, like, you know, what about the senior
center that's being built over in Klamath Falls?' And then we said, `No, why
don't we just make the entire series about districts and make the congressmen
just part of it? That way, we'll have an entire act to the show.' So we
really built backwards from who would talk to us. And it turned out the only
people who talked to us were all congressmen. So, you know, we retroactively
created a game to make them fit, which, you know, is a--it just shows you the
value of restricting your options.

GROSS: One of the things I like about this interview is I think it was a
great critique of a certain type of interview. Can you talk about that?

Mr. COLBERT: You--what do you mean?

GROSS: Oh, of having, like, a false premise and sticking to it and kind of
having everything...

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, you mean, like saying, `I've got a point to make here, and
regardless of the fact that--you know, in your first response to my point, you
completely deflate my point but you don't let go of your point'?

GROSS: Exactly.

Mr. COLBERT: Like, you know, `Why didn't they stay in school?' `They did
stay in school.' `OK, then why didn't they?'

GROSS: Exactly.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah, that's a game I love to play. I interviewed somebody--I
interviewed some people in Saratoga Springs in New York years ago who--a
printing error in the Town Hall killed every member of the town--everybody who
worked for the town died because instead of saying, like `married' or
`single,' it said `deceased.' Everyone in the town was listed as deceased on
the tax form. And so I swooped down on the town. I said, `What killed
everyone?' `No one died, Mr. Colbert. It just--there was a printing error.'
`And that is what killed everyone?' `No, there's no one dead.' `Then why the
rage? Why the grief?' `There's no grief.' `No one's grieving over these
deaths? That's very callous.' `No, no one actually died.' `Then why the
deceased column being checked out?' `It was a printing error.' `Mm-hmm. Has
anyone gotten rid of this printer?'

And sticking to a story you have to get, I think it's probably something that
reporters will recognize, because sometimes I'm sure--certainly it was for us
at "The Daily Show" and it is for me now, you've got to come back with a
story. And if all you've got is the story you've decided on before you went
out, well, that's all you're going to stick to. You're not going to listen to
what somebody says because you've got to bring back the bear.

GROSS: And speaking of bear, you're really into bears on the show.

Mr. COLBERT: No, I'm not into bears, Terry.

GROSS: You're not into--you're opposed to bears.

Mr. COLBERT: They're a danger. They want our honey and our pic-a-nic
baskets.

GROSS: Where did this bear thing come from? Is it from the `Colbert'?

Mr. COLBERT: No. No, it isn't. I've had a fear of bears since I was a kid.
I used to be afraid of being mauled by bears. My father was a doctor, and I
used to think of, like--well, God, they could do amazing things in modern
medicine, and I don't know why I though of it this way: They can do amazing
things in modern medicine, and even if I were mauled by a bear, they probably
could save my life. And in my head, I've always since I was a child have had
this specter of being mauled by a bear as, like, the worst thing that could
happen to you. And I grew up...

GROSS: Did you live near a bear?

Mr. COLBERT: No, I grew up on coastal South Carolina. There's not a bear
for 250 miles. But...

GROSS: With the exception of the zoo.

Mr. COLBERT: When I was a kid, I thought the woods were full of bears,
raccoons and bears. And so, you know, it's like I had dreams about bears.
They're after me. They're after me.

GROSS: That's very funny.

Mr. COLBERT: They're between me and something I want. I see bears. They're
dancing bears, but I know that if I get close enough to them, they'll turn
into Kodiaks.

GROSS: You know, there's been a lot of, like, steamy novels by political
people in the news. Like, Bill O'Reilly has one, Lewis Libby has one. And
you have one. You have...

Mr. COLBERT: I have Stephen Colbert's "Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturn: A Tek
Jansen Adventure."

GROSS: Yes.

Mr. COLBERT: It's about this guy named Tek Jansen, and he's a member of Alpha
Squad, of which there are seven members. And he has adventures. He's really
a surrogate for me. His adventures are really my adventures.

GROSS: Absolutely. I'm sure of that. There's actually an excerpt of one of
your novels on "The Colbert Report" fan site.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah.

GROSS: And with your permission, I will read a paragraph.

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, yeah. I wouldn't have explained the character if you just
read it, because the character is self-explanatory once you hear his voice.

GROSS: OK.

Mr. COLBERT: You've got to read the chapter title, too.

GROSS: OK. The chapter title is "Abraxxia's Gambit," and Abraxxia is an
attractive woman who--a character in...

Mr. COLBERT: Alien.

GROSS: Alien, yes.

Mr. COLBERT: Alien. A female alien, large-breasted female alien.

GROSS: I'm going to read the last paragraph of this excerpt.

`"What took you so long?" cooed Abraxxia, her words subtly quavering with the
universal inflections of desire. Ignoring my own fierce need, I furiously
scanned my surroundings for danger. She was crafty, and I knew that the
slightest mistake would prove fatal, not just for myself but for the entire
united alliance. Inevitably, my gaze settled back on the smooth curves of
skin that peeked out from under her transparent polo dress. How many rounds
of Euranian(ph) mega sex would it take before she surrendered the alloy?'

This is so great.

Mr. COLBERT: Well read. Do you do books on tape?

GROSS: No.

Mr. COLBERT: Because we're looking for a reader for our book on tape. First
we're looking for a publisher then a reader for our book on tape.

GROSS: Right. And I should mention...

Mr. COLBERT: I don't know why publishers aren't beating down my door. A
whole series of Alpha Squad 7...

GROSS: Right. Well, hasn't the Tek Jansen--right.

Mr. COLBERT: A whole series of Alpha Squad 7 books, wouldn't that be great?
You know, they'd be slender; they'd be novellas, but I bet you we could pump
them out.

GROSS: Have you tried to, like, get the Lewis Libby book, which is being
republished but in the meantime it's worth hundreds of dollars?

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, we have it.

GROSS: You have it.

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, we have it. We have two copies of the Lewis Libby book. I
think we came in right before the artificial bubble on the Lewis Libby book
and played it, 'cause as soon as he was indicted, we bought the book that
night. And the group had paid, you know, 30 bucks or something, but the next
day, it was like $500.

GROSS: So have you read it?

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, sure. Yeah, about bear rape; that was one of my favorite
parts, about a Japanese whore-monger's enticing a bear to be sexually aroused
by poking its genitals with a stick so he can have sex with young girls to
make them frigid so they can be more effective prostitutes who will not fall
in love with their subjects. It's a good Republican value. No cognitive
dissonance there.

GROSS: Do you think Lewis Libby shares your fear of bears?

Mr. COLBERT: Obviously. I mean, now they're after our honey, our picnic
baskets and our women.

GROSS: Prostitutes.

Mr. COLBERT: Exactly. No, no. The bears turned them into prostitutes.

GROSS: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Mr. COLBERT: They weren't prostitutes before the bears got to them.

GROSS: I'm sorry. I was inaccurate. I'm sorry.

Mr. COLBERT: Yeah. Read the book. Libby's trying to teach us a lesson
here.

GROSS: What is your typical workday like now?

Mr. COLBERT: Right now it's in around 9:30, and it started off, like, 9:30 in
the morning to 10:30 at night, but now it's--for me, at least I'm going home
around 8:30, 9:00.

GROSS: Do you have time to actually watch the cable shows that you're
satirizing?

Mr. COLBERT: God, I wish I did. That's one of the things that we were
talking about last Friday. Ben Karlin, who's executive producer of "The Daily
Show" and is also one of the executive producers on my show, Jon and Ben and I
sat down on Friday and said, `Wow, we're kind of drifting a little bit away
from what we intended,' because I don't have time to, like, view my source
material, you know. I have time to read the newspaper in the morning when I
come to work and so, you know, one of the things we don't want is for the show
to be another "Daily Show." This thing has got its own flavor and its own
style, and that style is based upon our different source material, which is
O'Reilly or Hannity or Lou Dobbs or even Anderson Cooper. And that's what we
need to use as our source material, and it's hard, because when that stuff's
on, we're doing our show. So, you know, we're burning DVDs of it and passing
it around and, like, holding that in our laps now instead of a newspaper to
try to keep us focused.

GROSS: How much writing time do you have?

Mr. COLBERT: Well, what try to do is, you know, some stuff ahead of time, at
least one act written one or two days ahead of time. And since--we're doing
the Threatdown two days from now, and that's already written. So...

GROSS: You should explain what a Threatdown is.

Mr. COLBERT: Oh, I'm sorry. A Threatdown--on the show we have--we do the
five biggest threats facing America today, and it might be things like too
many pope biopics going on TV at once, confusing people about who the real
fake pope is. Is it John Voight or is it somebody else? We don't need
another Avignocism(ph), and--big Avignocism fans out there. We'll have that
reference. Oh, you know, number one threat: bears. And so, you know, we've
got one of those written for two days from now, and I came in this morning.
At least one act of the show, like five, six minutes, was written, but
everything else we're generating that day.

GROSS: Even though you're kind of satirizing the media pundits who are
fanning the flames of the culture wars, do you feel like you've become more of
a part of it in a way, that you're kind of more in the middle of that, of
having more insights to it?

Mr. COLBERT: No. I mean, I think it's a show--we're successful like
O'Reilly's show or like Hannity's show. It would be interesting if this show
had reached the kind of popularity "The Daily Show" achieved with this
character at the helm, because then it really would be a very odd mix, people,
like, listening to what you said and acting on your behavior when you're
giving them terrible advice. I'm looking forward to that. Then I'd
understand what it's like to be one of those guys or then I'd understand what
it's like to be in the mix. But until I start affecting people, you know,
with my terrible ideas, I'll never know what it's like.

GROSS: Well, I'd like to end with one more interview excerpt, and this is the
interview that you did with Tim Robbins when he was on the show.

Mr. COLBERT: That was probably one of my favorite interviews.

GROSS: It was very brilliant. Do you want to say anything before we hear it?

Mr. COLBERT: All I would say about this interview was it was a ton of fun.

GROSS: Stephen Colbert, thank you so much for coming back on our show. Love
your show, and, you know, good luck with it.

Mr. COLBERT: Well, thank you for having me again.

GROSS: Stephen Colbert hosts "The Colbert Report" Monday through Thursday
nights on Comedy Central right after "The Daily Show." Here's Colbert with
Tim Robbins.

(Soundbite of "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: I don't think I need to tell you, I'm--I'm really split on you,
Mr. Robbins. On one hand, I think you are a true artist who, through your
work, is enriching our culture. On the other side, I think your politics are
killing us by inches, OK? So I'm not exactly sure what question to lead off
with here.

Mr. TIM ROBBINS (Actor): Well...

Mr. COLBERT: What would you--why don't I try to split the difference?

Mr. ROBBINS: OK.

Mr. COLBERT: What's it like working with Clint Eastwood, and why do you hate
our troops?

Mr. ROBBINS: I don't hate our troops, and...

Mr. COLBERT: Do Clint first. Clint first.

Mr. ROBBINS: It's great working with Mr. Eastwood. He's a great master, a
Zen master. I've learned a lot from him. And the second part of the
question, I don't hate the troops.

Mr. COLBERT: OK.

Mr. ROBBINS: Why do you hate the truth?

Mr. COLBERT: What? No, I love the truth. It's facts I'm not a fan of.

Mr. ROBBINS: Oh.

Mr. COLBERT: No, let me ask you this. I've got a quick follow-up. What was
your favorite project you ever worked on, and would you rather have Saddam in
power?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Two 1950s versions of "Cinderella" now out on DVD
TERRY GROSS, host:

Two extremely popular versions of the Cinderella story were produced in the
1950s. Both are now available on DVD, and classical music critic Lloyd
Schwartz has a review.

LLOYD SCHWARTZ reporting:

When my mother took me to see Walt Disney's "Cinderella," although I was just
old enough to know better, I was so taken in by the animation, when the fairy
godmother pulled her magic wand out of thin air, I leaned over and asked my
mother, `How did she do that?' Sophisticated, computer-literate kids today
probably know all about the mechanics of animation, but the whole
transformation scene of pumpkin into carriage is still magical.

(Soundbite of "Cinderella")

Ms. VERNA FELTON (As Fairy Godmother) (Singing) Zalekazula, minchekabula,
bippety, boppety boo. Put them together and what do you get? Bippety,
boppety boo. Zalekazula, minchekabula, bippety, boppety boo. It'll do
magic, believe it or not. Bippety, boppety boo. Now zalekazulamee, and
minchekabularoo. But the thingamabob that does the job is bippety boppety
boo.

Choir: (Singing) Oh, zalekazula, minchekabula...

SCHWARTZ: The Disney version actually downplays the romance between
Cinderella and Prince Charming and focuses more on a slew of charming,
original characters, adorable mice who are trying to keep out of the way of
the stepsisters' sinister cat, Lucifer, a beleaguered pet dog, birds who make
Cinderella's bed. The most vivid human characters are the wicked stepmother
and the chilling sneer of character actress Eleanor Audley and the
velvet-toned Fairy Godmother of Verna Felton. Pop singer Ilene Woods is the
sweet-voiced Cinderella. And like so many of Disney's feature-length
cartoons, it's got a terrific score, including "Bippety Boppety Boo,"
Cinderella's "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," which a poet friend of mine
thinks is one of the most terrifying song titles ever written, and the little
work song for the mice who try to help Cinderella by making her a ball gown.

(Soundbite of "Cinderella")

MICE: (Singing) Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry for to help for Cinderelly.
(unintelligible). We've got to get the gold.

Unidentified Mouse #1: ...(Unintelligible) we've got to linen.

Unidentified Mouse #2: And I can do the sewing.

Unidentified Mouse #3: Leave the sewing to the women. You go get some
trimming.

MICE: (Singing) And we'll make a lovely dress for Cinderelly. Whoo! We'll
make a lovely dress for Cinderelly.

SCHWARTZ: In 1957, seven years after Disney, CBS produced a live TV version
of "Cinderella" written by the most distinguished team on Broadway, Rodgers
and Hammerstein, who needed a hit after their relatively disappointing string
of shows that followed "South Pacific" and "The King and I." It's the only
production they ever did for TV, and it got one of the biggest audiences in
television history. There were later revised versions, but none of them were
as touching or witty as the original. The star was Julie Andrews at her most
irresistible, a year after she opened on Broadway in "My Fair Lady."

(Soundbite of TV production of "Cinderella")

Ms. JULIE ANDREWS: (As Cinderella) In my own little corner in my own little
chair, I can be whatever I want to be. On the wings of my
(unintelligible), I can fly anywhere, and the world will open its arms to me.
I am in the ...(unintelligible). I am ...(unintelligible) king and queen.
And the color of my ...(unintelligible) is a queer sort of sour apple green.
I am coy and...

SCHWARTZ: Ilka Chase's stepmother was comically self-absorbed and snobbish,
not Disney's embodiment of evil. Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley were
hilarious stepsisters, more differentiated as characters and funnier than
Disney's interchangeable pair.

(Soundbite of TV production of "Cinderella")

Ms. ALICE GHOSTLEY: (Singing) Why would a fellow want a girl like her, a
frail and fluffed beauty? Why can't a fellow ever once prefer a solid girl
like me?

Ms. KAYE BALLARD: She's a frothy little bubble with a flimsy kind of charm.
And with very little trouble, I could break her little arm.

Ms. GHOSTLEY: (Singing) Oh, oh, why would a fellow want a girl like her, so
obviously unusual. Why can't a fellow ever once prefer a usual girl like me?

Ms. BALLARD: (Singing) Her cheeks are a pretty shade of pink, but not any
pinker than a rose is. Her skin may be delicate and soft.

Ms. GHOSTLEY: (Singing) But not any than a softer than a doe's is.

Ms. BALLARD: (Singing) Her neck isn't whiter than a swan's?

Ms. GHOSTLEY: (Singing) It's only a ...(unintelligible) amazing.

Ms. BALLARD: (Singing) She's only as ...(unintelligible) as a bird.

Ms. BALLARD and Ms. GHOSTLEY: (Singing) So why is the fellow going crazy?
Oh, why would a fellow want a girl like her...

SCHWARTZ: None of the songs became huge hits. They all sounded a little like
Rodgers and Hammerstein retreads. But I've never forgotten them.

(Soundbite of TV production of "Cinderella")

Mr. JON CYPHER: (As Prince Christopher) (Singing) Do I love you because
you're beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you? Am I making
believe I see in you a girl who loves me, too? You really do. Do I love you
because...

SCHWARTZ: I'm still amazed that a kinescope of an almost 50-year-old TV show
has survived. Even in black and white, the show is colorful, and for live TV,
it was a technical marvel. The Cinderella story is an archetypal myth about
the weak triumphing over tyranny, and it's probably the sweetest, most
innocent revenge fantasy ever invented. You don't have to be a child to be
captivated by it. And with their memorable tunes and delightful performances,
both these versions have kept their universal appeal.

GROSS: Lloyd Schwartz is classical music editor of the Boston Phoenix and
teaches English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He reviewed
DVDs of Walt Disney's "Cinderella" and the 1957 TV production.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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