I have many friends. I have many really talented friends. Lot work in the media industry. However, not *too* many have literally changed the course of TV history and the entire culture. These two did, in an especially male-dominated and male-credited part of a very male industry. Madeleine Smithberg and Lizz Winstead did, by creating the Daily Show -- yes the one that ran and ran and still runs on Comedy Central. Last week celebrated its 25th anniversary. The challenge is, Lizz and Madeleine were, as this Los Angeles Times reports effectively erased from its origin story and its legacy. And its profits.. If you didn't catch the story last week, read it! I had a chance to catch up with them over email after I reached out, delighted to see them given the kudos they deserve. They were gracious enough to do a short q&a.
Thank you, Madeleine and Lizz! (this is edited for clarity and brevity and so that I could appear to be half as witty as they are):
LZ: I have a devoted list of volunteer co-curators who send me possible articles for inclusion in the Sunday Paper each week. Last week, many, many sent one of the man pieces about the erasure of your contribution to-- your creation of-- The original Daily Show on Comedy Central. What do you think resonated with so many readers?
M: I think that people are happy to finally see 2 women receive credit for an accomplishment, especially in an industry (and world) dominated by dudes.
L: I think Mad hit it. Also, people don’t like seeing whole narratives dropped from history and are suspect when it happens. The historical context of this important show should be fully recognized and this helped move us in that direction.
LZ: Of all the coverage you received, what was one nugget, one small thing buried in one of the pieces that you are the most pleased by?
M: "Smithberg left “The Daily Show” in 2003 and went on to executive produce National Geographic’s “Explorer,” among other series. She now hosts a cooking show, “Mad in the Kitchen,” on YouTube.” Great to see “Mad in the Kitchen” in print in the NY TIMES!!!!!
L: My pull quote would be in LA Times:
LZ: What's the one nugget you were the most surprised by?
M: Most of the articles were interviews, so the content came from us. What was surprising was the volume!!
L: I was surprised that the writers were as surprised [that] they didn’t know a lot of what we told them and that no one had told our story before.
LZ: Lizz, when I do interviews and I describe my first decade or so in the Business, I usually say something like "back then I was called a 'freelancer;' today I'd be called a 'serial entrepreneur.' You did exactly that--for real--how exactly did you make the shift from Comedy Queendom to serial entrepreneurship-dom in the women's advocacy/not-for-profit space?
L: After doing projects that proved how using humor was so effective in getting people to pay attention to issues, TDS, Air America, etc, I wanted to use it to tackle this relentless and terrifying assault on reproductive freedom. I wanted to use my skills to focus on this issue because people had shied away from it, and that is why we are on the brink of losing it now. But I didn’t want to be just an anger fluffer, I wanted to hilariously expose these vaginal crossing guards but also give folks tangible ways they could help fight back, so I created a media based non profit that does just that called Abortion Access Front. You van find us at affront.org and on socials @abortionfront. We are launching a comedy chat show on Youtube this fall taking on all the feminist issues including abortion, called “Feminist Buzzkills Live!” I am very excited to have a new comedy show that covers our issues and has a call to action.
LZ: Madeleine, I've known you for decades. There have been the uppest of ups and some really down-y downs. I read this quote recently and didn't realize this extraordinary story which tells about the day when both ends of the spectrum happened to you, in the same day, in 1986, when the love of your life broke up with you and you got your dream job for David Letterman:
"I had what I call an emotional rainbow,” Smithberg said. "My heart was broken and my dreams came true in exactly the same second.” How does that moment relate to what you do and who you are today?
M: There are basically 2 threads of my life: personal and professional. On that day they converged. Cut to 34 years later when they converge again. Sam gave me a gift certificate for a cooking class and I got recruited to work as a Chef teaching corporate team building events…which, during COVID, led me to create MAD IN THE KITCHEN, my YouTube channel. I am currently a regular on THE TODAY SHOW, and an in conversations to obtain sponsorship to fund my ideal show - - with me in front of the camera!
LZ: Say it loud and say it proud: where can they see you in your most fuschia finery cooking and teaching and being you?
M: My website MADINTHEKITCHEN.COM - has links to my channel, a bunch of info including how folks can book private virtual events, and links to my recent live, interactive series: MAD IN THE KITCHEN LIVE.
LZ: Quick q's:
Who's gonna win the 2024 Presidential Election?
M: OH GOD WHO KNOWS - hopefully not T!!
L: Better question: Who is gonna get to vote in the 2024 election!!!!
Are we near the end of the pandemic or are we going back down the non-vaxxed rabbithole?
M: It feels pretty shaky right now…idiot non-vaxers!
L: If we could build a bipartisan consensus around vaccines the way we have around impeaching Cuomo, we could see our way out of this.
On a lighter note...What are you watching/Streaming right now that we all have to see?
M: New season of BOSCH, MARE OF EASTTOWN, THE 100 ft Wave…
L: TED LASSO, PEN15, MARE OF EASTTOWN
Cat person or Dog person?
Favorite restaurant in NYC, past or present?
M: Anything Jean-Georges…
L: SHOPSIN’S, Nick and Eddie, The Odeon, Frank’s on 2nd Ave
What/who's your go-to, your equivalent of Comedy 'comfort food' you turn to on a rainy day?
M: Anything Albert Brooks
L : Preston Sturgess for me
Thank you, M&L and we will follow every thing you do, closely!
If you have someone who might enjoy Lizz and Madeleine's story, pass it on to them. In the meantime, enjoy this missive this week's edition of fabulous, important articles by and about other fabulous women in the news. It is essential stuff, hand-picked by me--now us!--for you, from politics to tech, business to the arts, health to pop culture.
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THE PIC(K) OF THE WEEK:
The Cuomo Report Was Led By New York's First Black, Woman Attorney General. It's What A 'Meaningful Investigation' Looks Like, Advocates Say via The Lily
How Is Andrew Cuomo Still Here? via The Intelligencer
'A Poison In The System:' The Epidemic Of Military Sexual Assault via The New York Times
New Black Female Editors At Newspapers Shatter Journalism's Glass Ceiling via The Undefeated
The Associated Press Names Daisy Veerasingham Its New Chief via The New York Times
Rihanna Is Officially A Billionaire via Rolling Stone
You Should Not Run Your Family Like A Business via The New Republic
We Celebrated Kerri Strug's Sacrificial Vault. Now We Know Better. via Bustle
Why Women Gymnasts Compete To Music In Their Floor Routines But Men Don't via CNN
A Haunting Photo Led This Yearbook Teacher To Uncover Alleged Sexual Assaults At Berkeley High via Berkeleyside
Why Lorgia Garcia Peña Was Denied Tenure At Harvard
via The New Yorker
HEALTH & WELLNESS:
Genetic Secret To The Age Women Start Menopause Discovered via The Guardian
THE ARTS, BEAUTY, FASHION & POP CULTURE:
The First Fenty Eau de Parfum Is Here via The Cut
Mena Suvari On Surviving Hollywood via Jezebel
Let's Go, Lesbians: 50 Years Of Queer Women On Screen via Paste Magazine
Gen Z's 'nowstalgia' for Y2K Fashion Is Leading To A Thrifting Explosion via NBC News
The Unlikely Story Of A Sex Trafficking Survivor and The Instagram Account That Saved Her Life via Elle
NCAA Undervalued Women's Basketball Tournament By Millions While Prioritizing Men's Tourney, Report Finds via The Wall Street Journal
Marcia Nasatir, Producer Who Shattered Barriers For Women In Hollywood, Dead At 95 via Variety
AND WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT...?