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Madoff: A Scoundrel Or A Sociopath?

Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the proper terminology for describing white-collar fraudster Bernie Madoff, from the Dickensian "scoundrel" to the plebeian "scumbag."

08:03

Other segments from the episode on May 14, 2016

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, April 14, 2009: Interview with Drew Barrymore; Review of Kelly Clarkson's music album "All I ever wanted;" Commentary on language.

Transcript

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Drew Barrymore, From 'E.T.' To Little Edie Beale

TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest is Drew Barrymore, who
we’ve been watching in movies since she was about six playing one of the
children in “E.T.” Her new role is a contrast to the romantic comedies
we’ve come to associate her with.

She’s starring in “Grey Gardens,” the new HBO adaptation of the famous
1975 documentary “Grey Gardens,” which was made by the Maysles brothers.
It premieres Saturday night.

“Grey Gardens” is the story of Big Edie Bouvier Beale and her daughter,
Little Edie, who were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
but ended up living in squalor after Big Edie’s husband divorced her.

She refused to leave Grey Gardens, the East Hampton mansion she’d become
accustomed to living in, even though her alimony wasn’t nearly enough
for the upkeep. Over the years, the house deteriorated until the local
authorities deemed it unfit for human or animal habitation. When that
story became public, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stepped in to fund the
mansion’s renovation.

Big Edie and Little Edie’s relationship is a complex brew of love,
dysfunction, delusion and probably mental illness. In HBO’s “Grey
Gardens,” Jessica Lange plays Big Edie. Drew Barrymore is Little Edie.
Here’s a scene in which Big Edie and Little Edie are talking to each
other and to the Maysles brothers, who are off-camera filming them.

(Soundbite of film, “Grey Gardens”)

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. JESSICA LANGE (Actor): (As Big Edie) Edie, oh Edie? Never answers
me, that woman.

Ms. DREW BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Little Edie) I suppose I won’t get out
of here until she dies or I die.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (As Big Edie) Who’s she, the cat?

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Little Edie) I don’t know when I’m going to
get out of here.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (As Big Edie) Why do you want to get out?

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Little Edie) Because I like freedom.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (As Big Edie) Well, you can’t get it, darling. You’re
being supported. You can’t get freedom when you’re being supported.

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Little Edie) I thought you always said you
can’t get freedom when you’re not being supported, remember? Oh, it’s
awful both ways, I guess. I’d just like a couple of days on the beach,
that’s all.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (As Big Edie) Everything is good you didn’t do. At
the time you didn’t want it. Everybody looks and thinks and feels
differently as years go by.

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Little Edie) It’s very difficult to keep the
line between the past and the present. Awfully difficult.

GROSS: A scene from the new HBO “Grey Gardens.” Drew Barrymore, welcome
to FRESH AIR.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Thank you, Miss Terry Gross, someone who I listen to on
such a regular basis I can’t believe I have the privilege of being on
your program.

GROSS: Oh, thanks for saying that. It makes me feel very good. No, from
what I read, you worked really hard to get cast as Little Edie. Why does
the original “Grey Gardens” mean so much to you that you wanted to be in
this dramatized version?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, I really – I always loved – I liked the documentary
very much. I had seen it about eight years ago because I wanted to know
what this cult phenomenon was all about. And I was very taken by it, but
I sort of put it back in its DVD case and moved on with my life. And I
wasn’t one of the die-hard fans. It was just something that really moved
me and touched me, and I wanted to be educated on what the phenomenon
was about.

However, my friends put on headdresses and dance around and quote her
and love her, and I just have always been in awe of what an impact she’s
had on these people’s lives, how loyal they are to her, how sort of
ferociously protective they are of her.

So when I got the script, what I was really taken with was Michael
Sucsy, the writer-director, had done in sort of a Bob Fosse-esque,
unlinear, uncheesy, biopic-y way, had sort of filled in the holes of
telling us and informing us how these two women got to this moment that
the Maysles captured.

So when I had a better understanding of their lives, and I started
researching them, I fell in love, in a way, and as an actor, I also had
never seen a project that had this level of so many challenges.

First of all, she’s an icon. So to imitate an icon is just very
dangerous and intimating. Then to span the age range of 18 to 58, which
the film takes place for Little Edie in those years, to be able to do a
voice that’s so familiar, so recognizable and yet so distinctively
unique - I mean it’s got Boston. It’s got New York. It’s got Long
Island. It’s got Hamptons. It’s got East Coast. It’s got Southern. It’s
got English tones to it.

GROSS: And it also has, it also has aspirations to the theater.

Ms. BARRYMORE: It’s very theatrical.

GROSS: It’s like she always sees herself as being on stage, even though
she’s, you know, living this hermit-like existence in Grey Gardens, in
this mansion, this dilapidated mansion with her mother.

You know, we’re so used to you being in generational roles, in roles
about people of your generation, and so you can use a very naturalistic
voice.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: But this is completely different. She’s not of your generation,
and she didn’t have a naturalistic voice. She had this very kind of put-
on voice in a way. It’s a combination of regionalism and theatricality.

Can you talk a little bit about what you did to get her voice in your
head and in your mouth?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, I actually retrained my face. I studied for a year
and a half with a woman named Liz Himmelstein(ph), who’s one of the most
renowned vocal coaches in our industry, and I spent every day, five days
a week with her for a few hours a day training. And what I really
learned to do is I wore contacts and fake teeth and 13 pieces of
prosthetics to look and be like her.

So I started working with the teeth, and I had them made early, and I
retrained my face, because I talk out of the side of my mouth and in the
back of my throat, and her lips are completely forward, and everything
is in the front, and she speaks very much in sort of the nose and almost
like a singer. And I also did things like, you know, I studied her
curriculum at all the schools she went to. I read all of her journals
that she wrote.

GROSS: So tell me something that you read in Little Edie’s journals that
made you comprehend her a little bit better or that surprised you about
her.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, her hair loss was something that really ate her
alive. When she was younger, she went through a spell of alopecia that
she didn’t think she was going to recover from, but she did. And she was
a very beautiful young woman who was, you know, fashionable and a model
and had all this potential and promise. And you know, there’s a line in
the film, they did call her the golden girl.

And you know, she really believed her future was bright and she bought
into that. And when she started losing her hair at a young age, I think
this immense fear riddled her, riddled her in her bones. She was
obsessive about it. She wrote a lot about it.

I think she also felt sorry for herself in certain ways, where it was
crippling to her. She was really afraid of a lot of things, and it’s
ironic because she’s one of like the boldest, most quotable,
entertaining characters, on the other hand, who is completely willing to
expose herself and dance around the room, and loves being the center of
attention, but she would also hide painfully inside of herself.

So again, that stream of contradiction really for me was the thing that
I kept hooking into when I tried to, you know, honor her by bringing her
to life.

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Drew Barrymore, and she’s
starring in the new HBO movie “Grey Gardens,” which premieres Saturday
night.

This might be pushing things too far in terms of making kind of a
psychological connections. So just tell me to stop. But you know, this
is a mother-daughter story, and it’s a story of, like, deep love and
deep dysfunction. And I was wondering if part of the reason why you
really wanted to play Little Edie was because of your relationship with
your mother, which probably also combined love and dysfunction in pretty
large degrees.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: And I mean, your - the story of you and your mother’s
relationship is kind of famous too, since you were, you know, a child
star and your father left – your father was not in the picture by the
time you were born, and your mother, you’ve said your mother had to work
day and night in order to support you and so she was never home and left
you with babysitters, and then when you started working, you became the
earner of the family as a child. So just to kind of sum up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: But anyway, does the “Grey Gardens” story in some way – do you
relate to some of that love-dash-dysfunction?

Ms. BARRYMORE: I can always, you know, for myself, I’ve always brought
my own emotions and experience, whether that be pain or joy, to the
characters that I play. And this was unique because the anguish that I
feel over the relationship with my own mother is incredibly intense, but
her and I really decided that our dysfunction was something that needed
us to part ways, and we actually haven’t really been in each others’
lives for many years now.

So it was interesting for me because there are elements and moments of
emotions that I could bring that I could relate to, identify and bring
from a real, true place in my heart about a mother-daughter
relationship, but my own story has been now written quite differently
than the Beales, which is that my mother and I decided to part ways, and
the Beales turned off the world, isolated themselves, and were each
other’s salvations and partners.

I also don’t relate to someone who is isolated because I’m a very social
person who has created my own family via a tremendously wonderful group
of friends.

So there was a new thing that I had to challenge myself with, which was
not only this level of technique and acting and vocal coaching and, you
know, etiquette lessons and learning her curriculum and reading her
journals and understanding who this person was and learning perfect
imitation and figuring out exactly how many breaths she would take in
her famous speeches so that I could hit every single word as perfectly
as I possibly could.

What I did was – is I shut the world out when I made this film. I turned
off my phone, my computer. I didn’t read a newspaper, a magazine, watch
television, radio, drive a car, or do anything with the outside world,
including – I told all the people who, like I said, are my family that I
can’t speak to you for three months because I really wanted to
understand what it was like to lose everything and be isolated and be on
that island.

And it was one of the most painful experiences of my life, but I thought
the only way that I can bring honesty and relatability to this woman is
to go into a monastery of Edie Beale.

GROSS: My guest is Drew Barrymore. She’s starring in the HBO adaptation
of “Grey Gardens,” which premieres Saturday night. We’ll talk about some
of her other films after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Drew Barrymore, and she’s
starring in the new HBO movie “Grey Gardens,” which premieres Saturday
night.

Little Edie always wanted a stage.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah.

GROSS: So she didn’t have one until after her mother died, when she
became, as a result of the documentary, she was able to become something
of a performer. But she always wanted a stage, but the only stage she
had was, like, the world, and so she didn’t mostly live in the world;
she just lived in her home. It was a really teeny, tiny little stage
until the Maysles brothers came along and made this documentary.

But you always had a stage. I mean, you were I think like in a dog food
commercial when you were 11 months old. You were in “E.T.” before you
were seven. So it’s another way in which you’re completely the opposite
of her.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Different, yes.

GROSS: What was it like to have that stage before you even understood
what a stage was?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, I think that’s why I had to give it all up in order
to understand her and to be her, because it is a totally different
mentality.

I’m the opposite of isolated. I am completely exposed, and it is – it’s
surreal at times. It’s very liberating at times. I feel like the Norm
of, you know, the “Cheers” of, like, the world. I walk in and everyone’s
like, Norm! I mean, it’s a funny way to live.

I feel like I could hitchhike across the country and get from one end to
the other just by sheer, you know, hey, we’ve all known each other our
whole lives, like there’s sort of a natural, friendly vibe that comes
with that. It’s very, very surreal and very, very wonderful too. It’s
such a privilege and such a gift that I never abuse.

GROSS: How did you know that you liked acting when you were a child? I
mean, you obviously were good at it right from the start.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Thank you.

GROSS: And we could certainly see that in “E.T.,” even if we didn’t see
the things that you did before that. But did you like it? Did you know
as a child, yeah, this is for me?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, there were two things. One is I cosmically and
magnetically, with all of the blood running through my veins, felt this
connection to this family that I was born into, the Barrymores. I felt a
real honest to goodness desire to act.

I felt it because they instilled it in my soul, and I never wanted to

deny myself of that. In fact, I was very proud and excited of the fact
that at such a young age that I was in tune and in touch with that
connection with them and wanted to honor them and play in their field
and keep their name going and be like them. I admired them.

GROSS: Your father, John Barrymore, Jr., left - I mean, he wasn’t part
of the picture when you were growing up, and you never really spent a
lot of time with him. How close were you with other members of the
Barrymore family?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Not close at all, because they mostly were deceased
before I was born, and - but I would read their books, and I would watch
their movies, and I saw my face in their faces. Unlike other families
who aren’t close, I have a wealth - trunks and trunks and trunks of
research material.

You know, there’s a great book called “Minutes of the Last Meeting,”
written by Gene Fowler, who also wrote “Good Night Sweet Prince,” and
just the adventures that he writes about with, you know, Sadakichi
Hartmann and John Decker and W.C. Fields and my grandfather and the
escapades that these gentlemen went on, their mentality, their zest for
life - you know, I can get lost in that and understand more profoundly
who I’m connected to, who I’m born from.

And the reason that I love acting is because of them and because I feel
it in my blood that this is what I need to do. This is my creative,
cathartic outlet, and if I didn’t have it, I’d go – I’d be in a
straightjacket, I’m pretty sure.

And on the other level, there’s another kind of tribe, which is that
when you don’t have a family, such as I did not have a family growing
up, when I went on film sets, there are these amazing, eclectic,
interesting groups of people who are like the Island of Lost Toys, a
band of misfits, and they’re little families in themselves.

And when I did “E.T.,” that really changed my life because I had really
just done TV, movies and commercials, so I never really had an
experience as profound. And I also met my godfather there, Steven
Spielberg, and he was a gift to me, a real father figure, and he showed
me and gave me a sense of safety and inspiration and security and
someone to look up to like I had never had in my life.

GROSS: Well, why don’t we play a clip here from “E.T.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: Okay.

GROSS: And this is a scene where, you know, you have seen E.T. for the
first time, and you’ve just been, like, screaming in, like, shock, and
so now you’re asking your brother questions about E.T., because you were
initially, like, shocked and kind of afraid, and now you’re just really
confused. So here’s the scene.

(Soundbite of film, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”)

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Gertie) Is he a boy or a girl?

Mr. HENRY THOMAS (Actor): (As Elliott) He’s a boy.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Gertie) Was he wearing any clothes?

Mr. THOMAS: (As Elliott) No. But look - you can’t tell, not even mom.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Gertie) Why not?

Mr. THOMAS: (As Elliott) Because grown-ups can’t see him. Only little
kids can see him.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Gertie) Give me a break.

GROSS: That’s Drew Barrymore in a scene from “E.T.” What did Steven
Spielberg do to guide you through this movie?

Ms. BARRYMORE: He, you know, he encouraged my imagination. I loved that
- forever, as long as I can remember, I’ve loved comedy. I love to make
people laugh. I love when people make me laugh, or something’s funny. I
love that he encouraged me to improv and be playful, and a lot of that
is in the movie.

I mean, my character in that movie is a bit of a wisecracker. I mean,
she really is. So I loved that he brought out that sense of humor and
sense of play in me, and then I loved how nurturing he was when we did
the emotional scenes and how kind and gentle he was.

He just sent me a picture of us from doing an emotional scene, and he
has his hand on the Panavision camera and I’m crying in his arms, and
it’s – we were doing the scene were E.T. is dying, and you know, not
many directors are that nurturing when you have an emotional scene.

And then personally, you know, he would show me movies. He introduced,
you know, old cinema to me. He - we would have food fights in the
commissary during lunch. He gave me a sense of hope and humanity because
I really was a little bit scared and lost as a kid because I didn’t have
that guidance, and he was the person who sort of made me feel like
everything’s going to be okay.

GROSS: Did he stay in touch with you after the movie, or did you feel
like…

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: …somebody else in my family abandoned me?

Ms. BARRYMORE: No, quite the opposite. Him and I have remained close. In
fact, I just showed him a rough cut of the first film I directed, called
“Whip It!” starring Ellen Page. I’ve worked on it for the last two
years.

And I took it to him, and we watched it in his old movie theater, and he
gave me notes on it, and we talked, you know, scrupulously, for hours at
length about it, and he’s very much still a part of my life, and it’s
just a relationship that I will forever, until the day I die, value.

GROSS: Drew Barrymore will be back in the second half of the show. She
stars with Jessica Lange in the HBO adaptation of “Grey Gardens.” It
premieres Saturday night. I’m Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross back with Drew Barrymore. She
is starring with Jessica Lange in the new HBO adaptation of the 1975
documentary “Grey Gardens.” It premieres Saturday night. Barrymore has
been acting all her life and she was born into an American acting
dynasty. Her grandfather was John Barrymore. Lionel and Ethel Barrymore
were her great aunt and great uncle. Her father, John Drew Barrymore,
separated from Drew’s mother before she was born. Many of the films Drew
Barrymore has made were produced by her company, Flower Films, which she
founded in the mid ‘90s.

Now, I want to play a clip from another film that you’re famous for from
earlier in your career, and this is “Scream.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: Uh-huh.

GROSS: One of the classic, you know, contemporary horror films - Wes
Craven - and the opening scene, which I think is by far the best part of
the film, is like the scene you’re in. You get killed in the opening
scene.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: And most of – most of our listeners will know the scene, but for
those who don’t: you’re – you’re alone at home. The phone rings and it’s
somebody who appears to be a wrong number or something. Then it becomes
clear that he is threatening you and that he can see you. You think
you’re alone, but he is close enough so that he can see you. And then he
is threatening you that if you don’t play ball with him, he’s going to
kill you. And then you realize that he’s tied up your boyfriend on the
front porch, and your boyfriend is sitting there bound and bleeding. And
then this like terrifying caller starts to play this game with you. He
knows you’re a horror movie fan. He starts to play this game and
everything is on the line.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

(Soundbite of movie, “Scream”)

Mr. Roger Jackson (Actor): (As Phone Voice) Here’s how we play. I ask a
question. If you get it right, Steve lives.

Ms. DREW BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Casey) Please don’t do this…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on. It’ll be fun.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) It’s an easy category.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Movie trivia. I’ll even give you a warm up
question.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Don’t do this. I can’t…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Name the killer in the “Halloween.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on. It’s your favorite scary movie,
remember? He had a white mask, he stalked a babysitter...

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) I don’t know…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on, yes you do.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) What’s his name?

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) I can’t think.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Steve’s counting on you.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Michael - Michael Myers.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Yes, very good. Now for the real question.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) But you’re doing so well. We can’t stop
now.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Please stop. Leave us alone.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Then answer the question. Same category.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Oh, please stop.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Name the killer in “Friday, the 13th.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Jason, Jason, Jason.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No it’s not. No it’s not. It was Jason.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Afraid not. No way.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Listen, it was Jason. I saw that movie 20
goddamn times.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Then you should know Jason’s mother, Mrs.
Vorhees, was the original killer. Jason didn’t show up until the sequel.
I’m afraid that was a wrong answer.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) You tricked me…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Lucky, for you there’s a bonus round. But
poor Steve - I’m afraid he’s out.

(Soundbite of gagging)

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

(Soundbite of gagging)

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: That’s such a great scene. That’s like my nightmare come true,
that there’s going to be like a real life game show and you’re going to
get the answer wrong.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: Oh, it’s just terrifying. I really wanted to do that
movie. I had just started my company, Flower Films, and we sort of
unofficially produced it, and I teamed up with Harvey Weinstein.

GROSS: Oh, I didn’t realize that.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. And we went – and we found the director together
and we asked Wes to do it. And I said, you know, let’s ask the man who
has every 10 years created some of the most important films of that
genre. Then, after speaking with him, I just knew I had the right take
on it. And I was originally supposed to play another character but I
wanted to play that character because it was my favorite scene in the
movie. And I said the problem with scary movies is that always know the
main character is going to make it. So it’s like this, you know, screwy
mind game but she always survives. So if I bite it in the first scene,
all bets are off. That means anyone can get it. That’s scary. That’s
like flipping the genre on its head. And I just got this wild idea, one
night, in my apartment, sitting alone in New York, and I called Harvey
on the phone and I was like - I’ve got it. I was – like I’ve got to play
this girl and we sort of said, let’s do like a Janet Leigh in “Psycho.”

GROSS: Right, right.

Ms. BARRYMORE: And pull the rug out from under people and nobody’s safe.
And – and it was just so much fun to do it. And the reason I wanted to
do that, on an acting level, was because that scene took a week to shoot
and I’ve never ever, ever had to cry that much, and be hyperventilating,
and fear-ridden, and on the verge of like passing out because of, you
know, lack of breath and fear and anxiety and tears and hysteria, and to
be in that state for five days was a total blast. It was wild.

GROSS: So are you as big horror show – horror movie fan as your
character in “Scream”?

Ms. BARRYMORE: No, the opposite. I’m terrified of scary movies. Like I
don’t – I don’t want anything to do with them, ironically. I don’t go
see them. I’m – I’m absolutely terrified of them. But I wanted the
acting challenge of, you know, having to get to that level of – of fear
and tears and you know…

GROSS: Okay. So if you’re so scared by horror films, what was it like to
watch you as the person in jeopardy?

Ms. BARRYMORE: I didn’t mind it because I knew the tricks, you know. I
was there shooting it - I knew there was a camera. I knew there was a
crew. So I was okay. But I readily can’t suspend that disbelief when I
see other scary movies. They just scare me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: You’re such an interesting mix of - on the one hand, coming from
this like, pedigree, this like famous family; and on the other hand,
feeling like you didn’t have a family, because your father wasn’t with
you, your mother was – was working a lot and not with you and became
your manager for a while. But as you said before, you and she officially
parted ways. And I guess it’s – it’s such a kind of inherent
contradiction of your life, that you’re part of this like really famous
tribe, the most - perhaps the most famous acting family in American
history - and at the same time, you feel like you grew up without a
family.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. It’s – like I said, we’re dealt the cards we’re
dealt with in life and it’s up to us on how we want to play them. And I
feel anything less than sorry for myself, what I’d really like to do is
to keep their name alive and well and honor them. And, you know, when I
go to the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which is where I try to have
most of my premieres, they – my grandfather’s face is in the cement. He
put his profile because he’s known as the great profile. And my star is
actually, you know, ten feet away from his and here is the place at
another time he was and here I’m now. And I want to keep that tradition
alive.

GROSS: Of your family’s movies, which made the biggest impression on
you?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, different ones for various reasons, but I loved
“Twentieth Century” because I think my grandfather is just funny and
genius as that mad director, he’s just wonderful in it. But when I watch
“A Bill of Divorcement” with Katharine Hepburn, I get so emotional
because it’s about a father and a daughter reconciling. And I picture
myself in her shoes and me getting to have these conversations and
moments with him, the way that she got you have them with him in that
movie, and so that one is very personal for me.

And I loved “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” I loved that he used very little
prosthetics and makeup and – and took the risk of acting out those
physical differences between the characters. I mean, sure he had some
hair and some nails, but really it was his - he trusted his own facial
features and body language. He’s definitely the one I’m the most
connected to and – and – and feel this – this deep longing for. I love
Lionel in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Potter is one of the, you know,
greatest characters ever created and I can’t believe that’s my – my
uncle and…

GROSS: I know he’s just like the mean banker.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: I know and he’s awesome, and he was in a wheelchair at
the time so…

GROSS: For real?

Ms. BARRYMORE: For real…

GROSS: Yeah.

Ms. BARRYMORE: …so he performed it in a wheelchair and it’s, you know,
it’s just, I just love them. I love watching them. I…

GROSS: Did – did having them as your family send you back to lots of
other early movies too?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah, I – I grew up watching the classics, and I still, I
keep Turner Classic Movies on my television at all times. So, I’m always
watching old movies, coming home to old movies, and lot of the times my
family is on TV and it just feels…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: …welcoming home - that warm fireplace of good vibes. And
I have their pictures all over the wall. And it’s not an obsessive
thing, it’s just like, you know, I’m connected to these people and that
connection makes me feel good. So, I always love when I come home and
I’m like, hey guys how are you? You’re on the TV. It’s a sign. And yeah,
so I – I – I absolutely love - and it’s interesting because one of my
favorite love stories growing up was “Captains Courageous” - which is
actually a film, like Lionel is in as well.

And Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew have this incredible
relationship that evolves into something very deep and meaningful and
life changing for both of them. And the reason I fell in love with “Grey
Gardens” is because I’ve always loved unorthodox love stories that don’t
have a sexual connotation to them. That there - it’s about love. And I
was raised on those movies as a kid and they were more ubiquitous in the
old fashion classics, a little bit more than they are now today. But,
you know, “Paper Moon” by Peter Bogdanovich - even “Planes, Trains and
Automobiles” is a phenomenal love story, and funny and – and
heartwarming and - so I’ve always been a fan of that type of film.

GROSS: People who have come from troubled families or, you know,
families that broke apart like – like yours. I think a lot of them tend
to want to have a family and make it a more better family, like – make
it the kind of family that they wish they had and didn’t, or – or to not
have a family because families have like bad – bad memories for them.
Where do you fit on that scale if you – if you don’t mind answering it,
if it’s not too personal.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Not at all. I’m definitely for option A. I believe that
I’m going to be a great mother. I cannot wait to have a family. I’m so
looking forward to - all the challenges that I’ve taken on in my life -
I can’t wait to take on the one that shall be my greatest and most
selfless if I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to have a child. And I
know that I will provide the exact family that I would have always
wanted. And I do think that you can take damage and pain and dysfunction
and use it as the blue print of what not to do.

GROSS: So, I guess one of the things you wouldn’t be doing is what your
mother did with you, take you to Studio 54, you know, like the big club
where a lot of people were doing cocaine, back when you are still a
child.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. It seems irresponsible and I don’t want people to
hate her for doing that because, you know, it’s not the orthodox way of
motherhood. On the other hand, selfishly, from my own experience, I
can’t believe I got to party in that hay day and be the part of a
cultural phenomenon. And I’m – I’m glad because she inadvertently gave
me the opportunities that I needed, to have the career and the life and
the job that I wanted. So, you know, trial by fire - but I – I hope
people will forgive her for something like that because I – I don’t
believe she did them with malcontent intentions.

I think she just, you know, was a bit of a kid herself, and, you know, I
got – I got where I was. I got, you know, I got that I was at Studio 54.
And I was like, you know what, I’m glad. I’m glad I got to be in this
moment and, you know, I saw a lot of amazing things growing up. May be
they weren’t for children to see, but that was my life and I have no
regrets. It’s what’s formed me.

GROSS: Well, Drew Barrymore, it’s been great to talk with you. Thank you
so much.

Ms. BARRYMORE: I’m so honored to be on your program. I’m not kidding I
listen to you all the time. I just can’t believe I’m not, like, in my
Crown Vic driving down the road listening to this myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: …I don’t believe it’s really happening, so thank you -
thank you, thank you for having me on.

GROSS: Drew Barrymore stars in the new HBO adaptation of “Grey Gardens”
which premiers Saturday night.
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‘American Idol’ Clarkson Releases Fourth Album

TERRY GROSS, host:

Kelly Clarkson was the first person to take the top prize on “American
Idol.” Since that time she’s had a number of big hits. Now she’s back
with her new album called “All I Ever Wanted”. And rock critic Ken
Tucker says what Clarkson seems to want are hits on her own terms.

(Soundbite of song, “I Do Not Hook Up”)

Ms. KELLY CLARKSON (Singer): (Singing) Oh, sweetheart, put the bottle
down, you’ve got too much talent, I see you through those bloodshot
eyes, there’s a cure, you’ve found it, slow motion, sparks, you’ve
caught that chill, now don’t deny it, but boys will be boys, oh, yes,
they will, they don’t wanna define it, just give up the game and get
into me, if you’re looking for thrills then get cold feet, Oh, no, I do
not hook up, up, I go slow, so if you want me, I don’t come cheap, keep
your hand in my hand, your heart on your sleeve, oh, no, I do not hook
up, up, I fall deep…

KEN TUCKER: Kelly Clarkson’s big assertive voice was what won her
“American Idol’s” top prize. But she’s done a lot of work tinkering with
her music and her image. She’s alternately embraced her instant pop
stardom, rejected it, averted it and poked fun at it. “All I Ever
Wanted” is easily her most enjoyable album to date because she does all
these things at one point or another on it. Take the song that led off
this review called “I Do Not Hook Up,” and especially the album’s
unstoppable hit single “My Life Would Suck Without You”.

(Soundbite of song, “My Life Would Suck Without You”)

Ms. CLARKSON: (Singing) Guess this means you’re sorry, you’re standing
at my door, guess this means you take back, all you said before, like
how much you wanted, anyone but me, said you’d never come back, but here
you are again, cuz we belong together now, forever united here somehow,
you got a piece of me…

TUCKER: Now that’s a single with everything going for it: A little
guitar riff that gets absorbed into an electronic rhythm section only to
be overwhelmed by Clarkson’s swelling vocal. The result is a rock disco
pop creation that just builds and builds until it explodes in its
chorus. This is the way Clarkson first distinguished herself from her
“American Idol” roots when her 2004 hit “Since U Been Gone” demonstrated
that she didn’t have to over sing or rely on pointless displays of
melismatics to deliver a song effectively. It’s a style she’s honed
well.

(Soundbite of song, “I Want You”)

Ms. CLARKSON: (Singing) Hot temper with the shortest fuse, you’re such a
mess with an attitude, you’re workin’ hard but you’re payin’ more...you
never talk ‘cause you don’t have to, you gotta job but you hate the man
who takes it all like "Uncle Sam" I want you You, you, you, You, you,
you I, I, I, I, I, I, I want you…

TUCKER: This album arrives with a back story. Her first record was a
collaboration with lots of seasoned songwriters and producers who
supplied her with power ballads galore. Some of them excellent, some of
them hideous all of it commercially successful. Feeling her oats, she
rebelled for her second outing, ditching the people who’d given her, her
first hits and writing a lot of I’m a rebel, I’m in pain songs herself.
That album tanked. And so this album “All I Ever Wanted” is seen as the
great compromise - the comeback, the hard won lesson.

As she sings on the title song “All I Ever Wanted Was A Simple Way To
Get Over You” that is, in a career context, a way to get past the idea
that pleasing the public and pleasing herself were mutually exclusive
notions.

(Soundbite of song, “All I Ever Wanted”)

Ms. CLARKSON: (Singing) Tear up the photographs, but yesterday won’t let
go, every day, every day, every minute, here comes the emptiness, just
can’t leave lonely alone, every day, every day, hey, hey, this second-
chancin’s really getting me down, you give and taking everything I
dreamed about, it’s time you let me know, let me know just let go, all I
ever wanted, all I ever wanted, was a simple way to get over you, all I
ever wanted, all I ever wanted…

TUCKER: Clarkson constantly finds ways to (unintelligible) the travails
of ordinary people in which group she includes herself. She knows that
the anguish she likes to sing about is enjoyed by millions of people as
grandiose admissions of vulnerability. Yet the music that delivers that
message is anything but vulnerable. There’s a reason they call them
power ballads: a sad song blasted at full volume is a metaphor for
finding strength in pain.

(Soundbite of song, “Already Gone”)

Ms. CLARKSON: (Singing) I want you to know, it doesn’t matter where we
take this road, someone’s gotta go, and I want you to know, you couldn’t
have loved me better, but I want you to move on, so I’m already gone…

TUCKER: Kelly Clarkson is unique among “American Idol” graduates in that

she doesn’t appear in the gossip columns and her image - something the
TV show is designed to cultivate as much as it does music - she’s kept
that deliberately fuzzy. What this means for her music is that she’s
still not locked into one style or one mood. For a manufactured pop
star, she’s achieved an impressive amount of creative freedom. Her pain
is our pleasure and you get the idea that that’s just the way she wants
it to be.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is editor at large at Entertainment Weekly. He
reviewed Kelly Clarkson’s new CD “All I Ever Wanted.” Coming up, finding
the words to describe Bernie Madoff and other Wall Street miscreants. We
hear from our linguist Geoff Nunberg. This is FRESH AIR.
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Madoff: A Scoundrel Or A Sociopath?

TERRY GROSS, host:

Our linguist, Geoff Nunberg, has been listening to the different words
people use to describe Bernard Madoff and the other financial miscreants
in the news. Some of the words are old, like scoundrel. Some are new,
like sociopath. And some are, well, a little blue. He has these thoughts
about the changes in our moral vocabulary.

Dr. GEOFF NUNBERG (University of California at Berkeley School of
Information): After it came out that Elie Weisel had lost his life
savings and most of the assets of his foundation to Bernard Madoff,
somebody asked him if he thought Madoff was a psychopath. Psychopath is
too nice a word for him, Weisel answered. Sociopath, psychopath, it
means there’s a sickness, a pathology. I’d simply call him thief,
scoundrel. Scoundrel, that’s a word you’d expect to hear from Weisel,
whom people looked to as an emissary from a more absolute old world
moral order. In fact, it’s the very word Dickens used to describe a
character who eerily foreshadows Madoff right down to his name.

Mr. Merdle is the unscrupulous banker in “Little Dorrit,” probably the
darkest of Dickens’ novels, which by pure serendipity has been running
on PBS in a BBC adaptation. Despite his obscure origins and awkward
manner, Merdle is lionized by people of fashion who jostle to invest
with him, until his suicide reveals that he was a swindler who left
everyone who trusted in him destitute. As Dickens described it, old
people who had been in easy circumstances all their lives would have no
place of repentance for their trust in him but the workhouse. Legions of
women and children would have their whole future desolated by the hand
of this mighty scoundrel.

Scoundrel and the like don’t have that Dickensian rumble anymore. The
problem isn’t that we’ve rejected Victorian morality, but that we’ve
rejected the class system that it rested on. Scoundrel, wretch, knave,
rogue, bounder, cad, just about every word in the Victorian moral
vocabulary originated as a name for the lowborn or for vagabonds, or
menials or the like. And each of them implied a specific deficiency of
breeding. When somebody asks Merdle’s Jeeves-like chief butler after the
suicide, why he wasn’t surprised to learn of his master’s behavior? He
answers, sir, Mr. Merdle never was the gentleman.

It’s true that scoundrel hasn’t gone quite the way of wretch or bounder.
People still use the word when they want to suggest high-collared
Victorian rectitude. That’s presumably what Lillian Hellman was reaching
for when she used “Scoundrel Time” as the tile of her 1976 memoir of the
McCarthy years. But unless you’re Elie Weisel, it’s hard to use
scoundrel in earnest without coming off as starchy or superior. Mostly
the word is just jocular now. You think of the movie “Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels,” with Steve Martin and Michael Caine playing rival con men
on the Riviera. You knew from the title alone that it was a comedy.

We’d have a different take on the movie if it had been called “Dirty
Rotten Sociopaths.” That’s not a word we use affectionately. It’s
reserved for unsympathetic malefactors, particularly when they operated
a Madoffian scale. We tend not to waste it on small time crooks and
grifters. This isn’t the kind of clinical language that Weisel was
alluding to, which exonerates badness by reframing it as illness. That’s
the phenomenon that sociologists call the medicalization of deviance and
that Steven Sondheim described crisply in “Gee, Officer Krupke,” I’m
depraved on account of I’m deprived. Nowadays, sociopath has become a
lose term of abuse for anybody you want to claim as unfettered by the
pangs of conscience.

No major political figure has escaped the label - from Obama and both
Clintons to George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich. You even see people
calling Dick Cheney a sociopath. I say, even because most of the lists
of diagnostic criteria for the label start with superficially charming.
When it comes to the crunch, sociopath doesn’t add anything to what the
Victorians expressed as heartless wretch. Except that now the moral
judgment comes draped in a white coat. It purports to be the kind of
objective scientific classification that confers the authority to police
and punish in the modern world. You can’t suspend a kid from school
nowadays just for being unruly or obstreperous. You need a diagnosis of
oppositional defiant disorder.

And you can’t put somebody away just for being a scoundrel. Of course,
we still have words to describe those derelictions in purely moral
terms. But most of them are colloquial or vulgar. The tabloid New York
Post had its writers calling Madoff, Bernie the Bum, evoking the front
stoop language of guys from the old neighborhood. Donald Trump called
them a sleazebag. And others compared him to a heaping quantity of
ordure.

And a number of people called him a scumbag. Mad magazine even ran a
spoof poster for a movie about Madoff called "Scumbag Billionaire.” As
it happens, that’s the word Bill Clinton used during the campaign last
year to describe the author of an unflattering article about him in
Vanity Fair. The next day he had a spokesman apologize for his language
as inappropriate. But that’s exactly what makes this language effective
when you want to manifest genuine indignation. It proves that your anger
is strong enough to burst through the normal restraints.

I certainly wouldn’t wax elegiac about words like scoundrel and wretch,
not with the baggage they carried. But it’s odd that we have to step
outside of the language of public life when we want to express authentic
indignation or forcefully reprehend somebody simply for being bad,
which, while I’m at it, is another word that Dickens took a lot more
seriously than we do.

GROSS: Geoff Nunberg teaches at the School of Information at the
University of California at Berkeley. His new book, “The Years of
Talking Dangerously,” will be published next month. I’m Terry Gross.
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