Legendary film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie are the ultimate movie fans. They love talking about movies, especially with people who share their enthusiasm—from living legends like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Quincy Jones to such contemporary artists as Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Laura Dern, and Bryan Cranston. You’ll meet all kinds of interesting people and hear their recommendations of unsung movies you ought to know.
James L. Brooks
From The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi to such movies as Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good as It Gets, writer-director-producer James L. Brooks has created quality entertainment for decades and has no intention of slowing down. He has served as mentor to the likes of Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson and continues to work with young talents behind the camera. Oh yes—he’s also produced The Simpsons for the past 30 years. Leonard and Jessie were honored to talk to this multi-award-winning talent about his remarkable career.
Casting directors are the unsung heroes and heroines of the entertainment business. Sarah Finn has cast every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as well as their TV and streaming series) so she has great stories to tell about lobbying for Robert Downey Jr. to star in Iron Man, why she approached Vin Diesel to play Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, and how she overcame a slight obstacle to get Chris Pratt hired to lead that merry band. With a solid background in theater, plenty of non-Marvel movies to her credit, and boundless energy Sarah is a major creative contributor to every film and TV show she takes on. That’s why Jessie and Leonard are pleased to shine a spotlight on her in this episode.
Four-time Oscar winner Ben Burtt has crafted and created sounds we all know—from the heavy-breathing of Darth Vader to the pops and squeaks of R2D2, not to mention the voices of WALL-E and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He’s been obsessed with sounds since he was a boy and has never lost that passion, which comes through in everything he does—including this interview with two of his biggest fans, Leonard and Jessie. (Did someone say Wilhelm?)
Since starring in the hit American TV series The Guardian and The Mentalist, Australian-born Simon Baker has returned to his homeland and made two pet projects: the surfing drama Breath (which he also directed and co-wrote) and High Ground, which is now playing in theaters and On Demand. Filmed in remote and spectacular locations, it’s about a culture clash involving Aboriginal tribes and the colonizing forces of the UK—and it’s quite good. It also features the figurehead of Australian cinema, Jack Thompson, in a co-starring role. Simon discussed why these projects mean so much to him in this thoughtful conversation with Leonard and Jessie.
Bob Balaban’s resumé is filled with milestones: he shares an unforgettable scene with Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy, plays Francois Truffaut’s interpreter in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and is part of the Christopher Guest ensemble (Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show) and the Wes Anderson repertory group (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel). He writes, directs, and shares an Oscar nomination as a producer of Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of a fascinating life and career, which Jessie and Leonard were happy to explore.
Richard Kind is beloved by fans and colleagues alike. A versatile actor and endearing presence on TV shows like Spin City, Mad About You, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, movies including Argo, and A Serious Man, and animated films including A Bug’s Life, Cars, and Inside Out, he has made a lasting impression. He’s also performed on Broadway in such shows as The Producers and accumulated a lifetime’s worth of anecdotes and observations. Leonard and Jessie are among his biggest admirers and had a ball spending an hour in conversation with him.
I have always enjoyed Leonard’s work over the years, and how terrific that his daughter shares his love of movies!😊❤️
I have always liked Ernie Hudson. Great interview!
Bring Barron Back!
This was a much better show with Barron Vaughn
Good and the rest
I could listen Leonard all day.
I would be so happy never to hear Jessie ever again.