70 episodes

A ravenous pandemic. A ruinous recession. Protests, riots, racial strife, police brutality. And, of course, Donald Trump. The turmoil and upheaval roiling America in 2020 is the subject of Hell & High Water with John Heilemann. Through a series of conversations with the people shaping our culture — in politics, entertainment, business, technology, sports, food, and beyond — best-selling author and TV host John Heilemann (Game Change, Double Down, Showtime's The Circus) explores how the country is grappling with this apocalyptic moment and its existential stakes... and attempting to pull through and rise above it.
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Hell & High Water with John Heilemann iHeartRadio

    • News
    • 4.8 • 2.9K Ratings

A ravenous pandemic. A ruinous recession. Protests, riots, racial strife, police brutality. And, of course, Donald Trump. The turmoil and upheaval roiling America in 2020 is the subject of Hell & High Water with John Heilemann. Through a series of conversations with the people shaping our culture — in politics, entertainment, business, technology, sports, food, and beyond — best-selling author and TV host John Heilemann (Game Change, Double Down, Showtime's The Circus) explores how the country is grappling with this apocalyptic moment and its existential stakes... and attempting to pull through and rise above it.
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    John Dickerson

    John Dickerson

    In which John Heilemann talks with CBS News chief political analyst and CBS Sunday Morning contributor John Dickerson. The former moderator of Face the Nation, co-host of CBS This Morning, and correspondent for 60 Minutes, Dickerson is also the author of three books, a former writer for Slate and Time, and a co-host of Slate Political Gabfest. Heilemann and Dickerson discuss Republican and Democratic wrangling over the debt ceiling, the controversial Texas abortion law, the Facebook whistleblower, Donald Trump's Big Lie, and whether Joe Biden is doing enough to push back against the threats to American democracy; the evolution of Dickerson’s career from print to television and his relationship with his mother, Nancy Dickerson, CBS News's first female correspondent. Heilemann and Dickerson also discuss their mutual grief over the deaths of their dogs last summer, Dickerson's recent piece in The Atlantic about coping with that loss, and what both men believe that humans can learn from their canines about empathy, loyalty, and unconditional love.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    Brian Koppelman, Part 2

    Brian Koppelman, Part 2

    In which John Heilemann talks with Brian Koppelman, co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the hit Showtime series Billions. Heilemann and Koppelman discuss the genesis of Billions and why Brian was drawn to the world of hedge funds; the fifth season of the show (its finale aired on October 3) and the challenges posed by a months-long, Covid-imposed break in production; the feud between megalomaniacal financial titan Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Machiavellian lawman Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), and why the addition of rival master of the universe Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) this season is central to the show's future—as Koppelman and his partner, David Levien, explore whether a "good billionaire" is a contradiction in terms. Making a drop-in appearance on the podcast, Billions co-star David Costabile talks about playing Axelrod aide-de-camp and fan favorite Mike "Wags" Wagner; Costabile's history with Koppelman, with whom he went to college; and the evolution of their relationship and Wags's character over six years on the show. Koppelman also reminisces about his early career in the music business and his discovery of Tracy Chapman while he was still an undergraduate; his decision to pursue screenwriting with Levien and their first film, Rounders; Koppelman's struggles with ADHD and the career setbacks he faced before the runaway success of Billions; and the new series he and Levien are making for Showtime, which chronicles the rise and fall of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick.
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    • 51 min
    Brian Koppelman, Part 1

    Brian Koppelman, Part 1

    In which John Heilemann talks with Brian Koppelman, co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the hit Showtime series Billions. Heilemann and Koppelman discuss the genesis of Billions and why Brian was drawn to the world of hedge funds; the fifth season of the show (its finale aired on October 3) and the challenges posed by a months-long, Covid-imposed break in production; the feud between megalomaniacal financial titan Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Machiavellian lawman Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), and why the addition of rival master of the universe Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) this season is central to the show's future—as Koppelman and his partner, David Levien, explore whether a "good billionaire" is a contradiction in terms. Making a drop-in appearance on the podcast, Billions co-star David Costabile talks about playing Axelrod aide-de-camp and fan favorite Mike "Wags" Wagner; Costabile's history with Koppelman, with whom he went to college; and the evolution of their relationship and Wags's character over six years on the show. Koppelman also reminisces about his early career in the music business and his discovery of Tracy Chapman while he was still an undergraduate; his decision to pursue screenwriting with Levien and their first film, Rounders; Koppelman's struggles with ADHD and the career setbacks he faced before the runaway success of Billions; and the new series he and Levien are making for Showtime, which chronicles the rise and fall of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Stevie Van Zandt, Part 2

    Stevie Van Zandt, Part 2

    In which John Heilemann talks with Stevie Van Zandt, a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, co-star of The Sopranos, and author of a new memoir, Unrequited Infatuations. In this special two-part episode, Heilemann and Van Zandt discuss his early musical influences, the foundations of his best friendship with Springsteen, the extraordinary albums they made together in the 1970s—Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River—and the painful breakup that caused Van Zandt to commit "career suicide" by leaving the band on the brink of its becoming the biggest rock act in the world; his solo career as a musician and political activist, in particular his crucial part in the movement to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa; his unlikely emergence as a beloved actor in the role of Silvio Dante opposite James Gandolfini in David Chase's acclaimed HBO mobster series; and his reconciliation with Springsteen and return to the E Street Band two decades after his departure. Van Zandt also explains why he fought The Boss over calling his group The E Street Band — and still considers it a piss-poor name — and Van Zandt's view that the debate over "sways" versus "waves" in the lyrics of "Thunder Road" is no debate at all. 
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Stevie Van Zandt, Part 1

    Stevie Van Zandt, Part 1

    In which John Heilemann talks with Stevie Van Zandt, a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, co-star of The Sopranos, and author of a new memoir, Unrequited Infatuations. In this special two-part episode, Heilemann and Van Zandt discuss his early musical influences, the foundations of his best friendship with Springsteen, the extraordinary albums they made together in the 1970s—Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River—and the painful breakup that caused Van Zandt to commit "career suicide" by leaving the band on the brink of its becoming the biggest rock act in the world; his solo career as a musician and political activist, in particular his crucial part in the movement to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa; his unlikely emergence as a beloved actor in the role of Silvio Dante opposite James Gandolfini in David Chase's acclaimed HBO mobster series; and his reconciliation with Springsteen and return to the E Street Band two decades after his departure. Van Zandt also explains why he fought The Boss over calling his group The E Street Band — and still considers it a piss-poor name — and Van Zandt's view that the debate over "sways" versus "waves" in the lyrics of "Thunder Road" is no debate at all. 
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Ken Burns

    Ken Burns

    In which John Heilemann talks with documentarian Ken Burns, whose new four-part series, Muhammad Ali, premiered this week on PBS. Heilemann and Burns discuss Ali's life and legacy as the most important athlete of the 20th century, in particular how his story transcends sports, intersecting with the defining issues of his era (race, religion, politics, protest) and illuminating much about the American experience in the convulsive Sixties and Seventies; Burns's prodigious body of work, which has earned him two Academy Award nominations, 15 Emmys, and two Grammys, and has made him the dominant practitioner of his art form over the past 40 years; the landmark films within his oeuvre — multi-part television events such as The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and The Vietnam War, some running nearly 20 hours in length — and how Burns found himself imbued with the power to get such sprawling projects made; and the central role that race has occupied in his work, and in the American story. Burns also reflects on his childhood and how it inspired his career, and what it was like to co-direct the Ali series with his oldest daughter Sarah and her husband. 
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    • 1 hr 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.9K Ratings

2.9K Ratings

Fogpatch ,

Not to be missed

John Heilemann has established a series of wholly engrossing and important interviews that are very personable and enlightening. Kudos to John for breathing new life into the podcast medium!

BKK_Gohoke ,

Audio

I enjoy the conversations you have with your guests. But sometimes it is difficult to understand you due to speaking too fast and your volume is too low.

AZ VJ ,

Small critique

John, a podcast is reliant on words and the audience being able to understand your words. You talk so fast and sometimes so low, I miss a lot of what you are trying to get across to your audience. Please slow down and maybe let your guests talk more.

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