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KCRW's The Business

KCRW's The Business "The Business” is the show/podcast about the business of show business. We give you the who, why and how of making movies and TV. Hosted by Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter, produced and distributed by KCRW.

kcrw.com/etc/programs/tb KCRW is a public radio station and an affiliate of NPR.

kcrw.com/etc/programs/tb KCRW is a public radio station and an affiliate of NPR.

Operating as usual

Filmmaker Waad al-Kateab spent her early twenties living inside a besieged Syrian hospital, documenting the brutal reali...
02/03/2020
Oscar nominees turn footage smuggled out of Syria into ‘For Sama’

Filmmaker Waad al-Kateab spent her early twenties living inside a besieged Syrian hospital, documenting the brutal reality -- mixed with joy and humanity -- of everyday life in Aleppo. When she was forced to flee in late 2016 with her husband and infant daughter Sama, she was determined to smuggle 12 hard drives of footage past a Syrian checkpoint.

After al-Kateab made it out, the UK’s Channel 4 introduced her to filmmaker Edward Watts. Together they made a 90-minute video diary from more than 500 hours of footage. Al-Kateab dedicated the project to her daughter. “For Sama” is now Oscar-nominated for best documentary.

Al-Kateab and Watts tell us about spending two years crafting “For Sama,” and the ah-ha moment that inspired the final version.

Filmmaker Waad al-Kateab spent years documenting the horror and humanity of life in Aleppo, Syria. When she fled with her family, she smuggled 12 hard drives of footage past a Syrian checkpoint.

“Parasite” has already made history as the first Korean movie nominated for Oscar--or six Oscars to be exact, including ...
01/27/2020
Bong Joon Ho on making ‘Parasite,’ then making history | The Business

“Parasite” has already made history as the first Korean movie nominated for Oscar--or six Oscars to be exact, including Best Picture and Best International film. No foreign-language film has ever won Best Picture...yet.

Director Bong Joon Ho tells us about clashing with Harvey Weinstein over cuts to his 2013 film “Snowpiercer,” and explains how that led him to make “Okja” for Netflix, even though he prefers to watch films in theaters. And he shares his thinking behind the planned “Parasite” TV series.

“Parasite” has already made history as the first Korean film nominated for Oscar--or six Oscars to be exact, including Best Picture.

It’s a podcast crossover event! Recently, Kim Masters sat on the other side of the mic as Ronan Farrow interviewed her f...
01/21/2020
Kim Masters on ‘The Catch and Kill Podcast’ with Ronan Farrow

It’s a podcast crossover event!

Recently, Kim Masters sat on the other side of the mic as Ronan Farrow interviewed her for an episode of his "Catch and Kill Podcast." They talked about why it was so hard to reveal the allegations against Harvey Weinstein for so many years.

This week, we play sections from Episode Five of Farrow’s “Catch and Kill Podcast,” and Kim adds a few additional memories of her own.

It’s a podcast crossover event! Recently, Kim Masters sat on the other side of the mic as Ronan Farrow interviewed her for an episode of his “Catch and Kill Podcast.”

In recent weeks, we’ve heard from filmmakers who have made it in a big way in Hollywood. But hitting those career highs,...
01/13/2020
Three filmmakers reflect on early career struggles | The Business

In recent weeks, we’ve heard from filmmakers who have made it in a big way in Hollywood. But hitting those career highs, didn’t come without some serious lows. We didn’t have time to fit all their interesting stories into the show, but we bring them to you now.

"Little Women" director Greta Gerwig told us she was initially set on becoming an actress, but the universe seemed to be sending her a clear message to go in a different direction.

Documentary filmmaker Nanfu Wang had made her family very happy by landing a stable office job in Shanghai. But Wang looked around, saw that all her coworkers were miserable, and knew she had to get out.

And before Victoria Mahoney became the first woman and first person of color to direct on a “Star Wars” film, she spent years trying to break into TV directing by watching other directors work. She learned a lot, just not what she thought she would.

This week, some delicious leftovers from three filmmakers reflecting on the tough early days of their careers.

This week, some very tasty leftovers from three filmmakers reflecting on the early, not-so-easy days of their careers.

Did you see "Star Wars" over the holidays? Take a listen to learn about some of the history happening behind the scenes....
01/06/2020
How Victoria Mahoney made ‘Star Wars’ history | The Business

Did you see "Star Wars" over the holidays? Take a listen to learn about some of the history happening behind the scenes.

Victoria Mahoney literally went through homelessness to direct a small independent feature in 2011 and then became a successful TV director. She wanted to make more movies, sure, but she certainly wasn’t expecting the offer that came her way when she got a call from “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams. As the second unit director on “The Rise of Skywalker,” Victoria Mahoney is making history: the first woman and first person of color to direct in the “Star Wars” movie universe.

Victoria Mahoney literally went through homelessness to direct a small indie feature in 2011 and then became a TV director. She wanted to make more movies, sure, but she certainly wasn’t expecting a call from "Star Wars" director J.J. Abrams.

One Child Nation, a documentary about the devastating effects of China’s one child policy, has been nominated for lots o...
12/16/2019
Nanfu Wang on going back to China--and avoiding surveillance--to make ‘One Child Nation’

One Child Nation, a documentary about the devastating effects of China’s one child policy, has been nominated for lots of prizes. But director Nanfu wang says any film buff who has to rely on Chinese media to follow these competitions wouldn’t even know her film exists--it's totally banned in China.

Wang was born in China and remains a citizen of that country, though she now lives in the U.S. Her 2016 documentary about an activist known as Hooligan Sparrow relied on surreptitiously captured footage that was smuggled out of the country. That film shows Wang and her team as authorities harass and threaten them. Watching “Hooligan Sparrow,” it’s surprising Wang was ever let back into China.

But she was, and once again, she took on a taboo topic--the forced abortions and child trafficking that happened under China’s one-child policy. She tells us how she made “One Child Nation.”

“One Child Nation,” a documentary about the devastating effects of China’s one-child policy, has been nominated for many awards.

When a studio executive “suggested” that Greta Gerwig change the ending she had devised for her version of "Little Women...
12/09/2019
Greta Gerwig on making ‘Little Women' -- her way | The Business

When a studio executive “suggested” that Greta Gerwig change the ending she had devised for her version of "Little Women," Gerwig channeled Jo March, the fiery heroine of the Louisa May Alcott classic.

Gerwig tells us about re-discovering the 19th century novel in her 30s and finding it surprisingly modern. And she explains why she insisted on writing and directing this film version even though when she pitched it (before she made "Lady Bird"), she wasn’t exactly qualified.

When a studio executive “suggested” that Greta Gerwig change the ending she had devised for her version of "Little Women," Gerwig channeled Jo March, the fiery heroine of the Louisa May Alcott classic.

In Hollywood, working as an assistant is a time-honored way to break into the business. No one should expect those jobs ...
12/02/2019
With #PayUpHollywood, assistants speak out | The Business

In Hollywood, working as an assistant is a time-honored way to break into the business. No one should expect those jobs to be glamorous, but now assistants are saying that their working conditions are intolerable and even detrimental to the industry.

While the cost of living in LA has gone up, assistants’ wages have not. Add to that unpaid overtime and abusive bosses, and you have a toxic stew, says writer and former assistant Liz Alper, who created the #PayUpHollyood hashtag. Alper and a current assistant share stories from the trenches, and explain why assistants feel now is the time to demand change, for the sake of the assistants themselves and the future of the industry.

This week, we talk with a Hollywood assistant who, like many, has not only been underpaid, but has had staplers and markers thrown at her. She came to the studio with former assistant Liz Alper, who created the #PayUpHollywood hashtag.

Most filmmakers hide for a while after a bomb, but not ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ director Tim Miller. Miller thought it wa...
11/25/2019
‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ director on the bumpy road to a box office bomb

Most filmmakers hide for a while after a bomb, but not ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ director Tim Miller.

Miller thought it was a dream come true when he got a chance to direct a new Terminator movie with James Cameron on board as a producer.

Then he actually had to make the movie. After dealing with script troubles, a difficult shoot, and intense disagreements on the final edit, Miller watched as ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ met a dark fate at the box office.

Miller talks us through that process of making the film and tries to figure why audiences were not saying “I’ll be back”...for another Terminator movie.

Most filmmakers hide for a while after a bomb, but not ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ director Tim Miller. Miller tries to figure why audiences were not saying “I’ll be back”...for another Terminator movie.

Peter Jackson generated whole worlds for his ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies. Last year he made a documentary...
11/18/2019
Revisiting Peter Jackson on 'They Shall Not Grow Old,' back in theaters soon

Peter Jackson generated whole worlds for his ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies. Last year he made a documentary that magically brought to life old footage shot on the front lines of World War I. It was no easy feat. This week we’re revisiting our conversation with Peter Jackson about ‘They Shall Not Grow Old,’ which returns to theaters for 3 nights in December.

Jackson tells us about hiring forensic lip readers to interpret conversations captured on silent film so actors could perform the lines, and how the techniques used in ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ could be used on other old films, including some of his own. Plus, an all new banter!

Peter Jackson generated whole worlds for his ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies. Last year he made a documentary that magically brought to life old footage shot on the front lines of World War I. It was no easy feat.

This week, it's part 2 of our interview with Damon Lindelof. He and Kim Masters have a heart to heart about ‘The Hunt.’I...
11/12/2019
Damon Lindelof goes deep on the unreleased movie ‘The Hunt’

This week, it's part 2 of our interview with Damon Lindelof.
He and Kim Masters have a heart to heart about ‘The Hunt.’

In August, following back-to-back mass shootings, Masters co-wrote a story in The Hollywood Reporter about the movie--a satire in which elites hunt so-called deplorables for sport. Days later, Universal canceled the film’s release. Lindelof, who co-wrote ‘The Hunt,’ tells us what happened from his perspective.

In part two of our interview with Damon Lindelof, he and Kim Masters have a heart to heart about ‘The Hunt.’

Alan Moore, writer of the 1980s ‘Watchmen’ comic series, has been very clear: no ‘Watchmen’ movie or TV show has his ble...
11/04/2019
Showrunner Damon Lindelof on HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ | The Business

Alan Moore, writer of the 1980s ‘Watchmen’ comic series, has been very clear: no ‘Watchmen’ movie or TV show has his blessing. That includes the new series on HBO.

Keenly aware of that, ‘Watchmen’ showrunner Damon Lindelof believes Moore may have put a curse on him. Seriously.

Lindelof thought he really shouldn’t do the series but still he did--create an updated version of Watchmen HBO. Critics love it, the alt right hates it, and it’s delivering solid ratings for HBO. Lindelof--a passionate, lifelong ‘Watchmen’ fan--tells us why he said yes when asked, for the third time, to tackle this project.

The writer of the 1980s ‘Watchmen’ comic books, Alan Moore, has been very clear: no ‘Watchmen’ movie or TV show will ever get his blessing--and that includes the new series on HBO.

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage created The O.C. and Gossip Girl--some of the most defining young adult shows of the ...
10/28/2019
Prolific TV producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage on ‘Looking for Alaska’

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage created The O.C. and Gossip Girl--some of the most defining young adult shows of the 2000’s. As they continue to make shows about young-adult angst, they also confront the passage of time. They’re now working with actors weren't even born when the duo's earlier shows first premiered. Savage and Schwartz tell us about their new series, Looking for Alaska, a coming of age story set in the ancient days of 2005. They first dreamed of a film adaptation of John Green’s novel of the same name 14 years ago. They tell us how they finally managed to turn it into a limited series on Hulu.

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage made ‘The O.C.’ and ‘Gossip Girl’--some of the most defining young adult shows of the early 2000’s. They continue to create series about young-person angst, including a ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot for HBO Max.

Almost a decade ago, Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad was imprisoned and tortured by the Assad regime for filming anti-gove...
10/21/2019
Syrian director Feras Fayyad on his new documentary 'The Cave'

Almost a decade ago, Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad was imprisoned and tortured by the Assad regime for filming anti-government protests. After his release in 2012, he kept the cameras rolling.

Fayyad became the first Syrian director to be nominated for Oscar with his 2017 film 'Last Men in Aleppo,' about the White Helmets who rescue the injured at great risk to themselves.

Fayyad’s new film, ‘The Cave,’ profiles a courageous young doctor as she runs an underground hospital in a besieged area outside Damascus.

Almost a decade ago, Feras Fayyad was imprisoned and tortured by the Assad regime in Syria for filming anti-government protests. But after his release, he kept making documentaries.

If you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO NOW--and maybe a couple others--you may feel like your TV streaming plate...
10/14/2019
A tour through a transforming media world with analyst Rich Greenfield

If you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO NOW--and maybe a couple others--you may feel like your TV streaming plate is pretty full. The bad news is that next month brings two more major streaming options to tempt you: Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus. Warner Media’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock aren’t far behind.

But maybe that’s the good news. Media analyst Rich Greenfield thinks it is, at least for you, the customer.

He gives us updates on all the major players on the scene and explains why more and more people are saying bye-bye to the cable bundle and embracing a streaming future.

With even more new streaming services launching in the months ahead, we talk with opinionated analyst Rich Greenfield about the transforming media landscape and the challenges facing giants Disney, Comcast and AT&T.

This week, we bring you Part 2 of our interview with Kevin Smith. The filmmaker tells us how he set out to rescue his he...
10/07/2019
How Kevin Smith tried to rescue his hero Stan Lee | The Business

This week, we bring you Part 2 of our interview with Kevin Smith. The filmmaker tells us how he set out to rescue his hero, the legendary Stan Lee. Last year, Smith began to fear that the elderly co-creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men was being abused. Smith acted, though he felt strongly that there could be no good outcome.

He tells us about his friendship with Lee and explains why he called Kim Masters to share his concern about what was happening to Lee following the death of his beloved wife Joan.

This week, how filmmaker Kevin Smith set out to rescue his hero, the legendary Stan Lee. Last year, Smith began to fear that the elderly Marvel creator was being abused. Smith acted, though felt strongly there could be no good outcome.

We've got a good one for you today! Kevin Smith tells us about all kinds of things---making it work as an indie filmmake...
09/30/2019
Kevin Smith on Weinstein and indie filmmaking 25 years after ‘Clerks’

We've got a good one for you today! Kevin Smith tells us about all kinds of things---making it work as an indie filmmaker 25 years after 'Clerks,' his long relationship with Harvey Weinstein, and taking his new movie 'Jay and Silent Bob Reboot' on the road.

Twenty-five years after ‘Clerks,’ Kevin Smith is shook. Despite his insistence that he's behind the times, he's always found ways to get his movies made.

This week on the show, we're joined by Susannah Grant, showrunner of the new Netflix series 'Unbelieveable.' She tells u...
09/23/2019
Showrunner Susannah Grant on making the Netflix series ‘Unbelievable’

This week on the show, we're joined by Susannah Grant, showrunner of the new Netflix series 'Unbelieveable.' She tells us about the challenge of turning a Pulitzer prize winning news story into a scripted series about how one team of cops pursued a serial rapist while another disbelieved and bullied a victim. She also shares her thoughts on how to depict rape on screen and talks about what she did and did not discuss with the victim whose story is at the heart of the series.

The Netflix series 'Unbelievable' is based on a true story about how one team of cops pursued a serial rapist while another disbelieved and bullied a victim.

Did you see Hustlers over the weekend?Listen to writer-director Lorene Scafaria talk about the struggle to get the movie...
09/16/2019
Writer-director Lorene Scafaria on the fight to make ‘Hustlers’

Did you see Hustlers over the weekend?

Listen to writer-director Lorene Scafaria talk about the struggle to get the movie made.

Plus, that insane pole dance? Scafaria says--that's all Jennifer Lopez!

Hot off Toronto, where ‘Hustlers’ won raves, Lorene Scafaria tells us about her fight to direct the movie, which is based on her script about a real-life group of strippers who robbed their Wall Street clientele.

Five months after firing their agents, members of the Writers Guild are still at war with the major agencies over packag...
09/09/2019
The Battle for the WGA | The Business

Five months after firing their agents, members of the Writers Guild are still at war with the major agencies over packaging fees. In the heat of the ongoing union election, we try to explore a couple of perspectives on the two groups competing for Guild leadership.

We talked to WGA board member Angelina Burnett about why she thinks the Guild can ultimately win this fight. We had trouble getting anyone on the air to discuss the dissidents' point of view, but finally Guild member Rob Long--who's not running for anything, but does support the opposition--stepped up. But unlike many dissidents who think some change is needed, Long thinks the Guild's fight against packaging is pointless.

Five months after firing their agents, members of the Writers Guild are still at war with the major agencies over packaging fees.

When Ben Berman set out to make ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ he figured it would be a poignant film about an ail...
08/26/2019
In Ben Berman’s ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ nothing is as it seems

When Ben Berman set out to make ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ he figured it would be a poignant film about an ailing comedian and magician. But very quickly, Berman found himself wondering: was he making a movie about Jonathan, or was Johnathan roping him into a project of his own? Berman shares the crazy, twist-filled story of making ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ which is now available on Hulu.

When Ben Berman set out to make ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ he figured it would be a poignant film about an ailing comedian and magician.

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The Business is hosted by Kim Masters, Editor-at-Large for The Hollywood Reporter. It's produced by Darby Maloney. The Sound Engineer is Ray Guarna. The show is produced and distributed by KCRW in Santa Monica, CA. Twitter feeds: Host, Kim Masters: @kimmasters Producer, Darby Maloney: @DarbyKCRW

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Long before Stranger Things' Executive Director Shawn Levy was an #Oscar-nominated filmmaker, he sported a spectacular hairdo as 'Jim Batten' when he was an actor in ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE from Cinema Epoch and Code Red DVD. His 2017 interview - http://kcrw.co/2sp4KG4 via KCRW's The Business. #Stream and #watch the 1987 cult movie, ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE on #PrimeVideo: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CQ4L6M5 Making her feature film #debut is Tia Carrere. Also starring Adam West with music by Official Motörhead and Pantera. #StrangersThings3 #ZombieNightmare #1980s #StrangerThings #ShawnLevy #TiaCarrere #AdamWest #Motörhead #Pantera
Good Fortune follows Paul Michell CEO John Paul DeJoria, both a successful businessman and philanthropist. In this inspiring documentary, DeJoria discusses his life growing up in East LA, from the low points like when he was homeless, to the high points like where he is now in his life. Good Fortune goes above and beyond other documentaries because it shows DeJoria’s actual authentic interactions between him and his employees. I love how the directors (Josh and Rebecca Tickell) made me feel a real connection to DeJoria by using old photographs, archival footage, and interviews from DeJoria’s friends. I recommend this to anyone looking for some inspiration! Good Fortune Movie L.A. Premieres at Laemmle's Monica Film Center until July 6!! http://bit.ly/2rCJCYS