AUNT BETTY: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week on the show, Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman and correspondent for NPR's Code Switch team Karen Grigsby Bates. All right. Let's start the show.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALANIS MORISSETTE SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
SAM SANDERS, HOST:
Hey y'all. From NPR, I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. Happy weekend.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Finally.
AMY KAUFMAN: Finally.
SANDERS: Is it? I don't know, it's like the years get shorter but the weeks get longer.
GRIGSBY BATES: The weeks get longer. And because the news gets more intensive, it's sort of like more packed. So it's like a jack in the box, you know, when you turn that little thing, (vocalizing).
SANDERS: Yes. Welcome to my guest Amy Kaufman who covers film celebrity and pop culture for the LA Times, just back from Sundance.
SANDERS: Thanks for being here. And friend of the show, Karen Grigsby Bates, correspondent for NPR's Code Switch covering race, ethnicity and culture. You all, we're joined in studio by one of my favorites this morning, Ms. Alanis Morissette.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
ALANIS MORISSETTE: (Singing) Because I've got one hand in my pocket. And the other one is giving a high five.
KAUFMAN: She's really setting the mood. I love it.
SANDERS: So I am playing this song, which is a classic, "Hand In My Pocket," because it was announced this week that her breakthrough album "Jagged Little Pill" is going to become a Broadway musical.
GRIGSBY BATES: Wow.
KAUFMAN: Yes, I actually know Diablo Cody a little bit.
SANDERS: Who's writing the book?
KAUFMAN: Yes. She's been working on it for a long time.
SANDERS: Well, what have you heard about it?
KAUFMAN: Well they've been testing it in - on the East Coast in Boston and other places. And I've heard it's pretty cool.
SANDERS: Really? So they've reviewed some of the early runs in Cambridge where they were testing it out. And apparently, they use the catalog in these songs to confront heavy social issues like rape culture and addiction. And some reviews of the early productions say they really try to cram a lot of social issues into the plot, to which I say, I'm here for it.
KAUFMAN: Yes. I've also heard from Diablo that Alanis is, like, exactly what you'd want her to be. Like, really involved...
KAUFMAN: ...Really smart, really cool. So it doesn't surprise me that the show would tackle, like, serious social issues.
SANDERS: I love it. I can't tell you - like, this is going to be my personal "Hamilton." I can't tell you how much I love this album. I loved - like, I loved Alanis Morissette.
GRIGSBY BATES: I thought "Hand In My Pocket" was going to be an allusion to the fact that the government is raising the price of a forever stamp again.
GRIGSBY BATES: It's just like...
KAUFMAN: Way to bring it on down.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yeah, I know. We're just taking more money. Sorry, that's what we old people do.
SANDERS: I'm just mad they ever called it a forever stamp. You know it's not going to be forever.
GRIGSBY BATES: Well, it's forever until we raise it the next time.
SANDERS: Exactly. Alanis would never do that to us.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
MORISSETTE: (Singing) I'm free, but I'm focused. I'm green, but I'm wise. I'm hard, but I'm friendly, baby.
SANDERS: All right.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
MORISSETTE: (Singing) I'm sad...
SANDERS: We're going to start our show as we always do. I'm going to ask each of my guests to describe their week of news in only three words. You both have prepared for this. Karen, you can go first.
GRIGSBY BATES: My three words are beware your phone.
GRIGSBY BATES: The Intercept and the Daily Appeal got together to do a great chunk of investigative reporting that looked at how prison systems around the country are starting to - I don't know if this is the right word, but I would say compromise their inmates. So if you are not Sam and you're inmate 54321...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...And you want to use the phone as you usually get to do, you know, once, twice a week. Now in certain prisons when you go up to the phone, they say listen to the instructions from an autonomon (ph) at the other end - automaton on the other end.
SANDERS: Yeah. And they have to say stuff.
GRIGSBY BATES: And they have to say things. They have to say, you know, maybe the sky is blue. I eat puppies.
GRIGSBY BATES: There's free chocolate in the commissary today. Whatever. Whatever they them me to say. And they're using the inmates' voices as voice prints that they put into a database.
SANDERS: So they have, like, a fingerprint, but it's made of their voice.
GRIGSBY BATES: It's made of your voice. There - it's very sneaky. It has not been transparent.
GRIGSBY BATES: Civil liberties groups are saying it's not even legal. They're pushing back. And...
KAUFMAN: What's the intention of it?
GRIGSBY BATES: That's a very good question, Amy, because they have not been transparent as to what the intention is.
SANDERS: And so, Karen, you know, in this Intercept article, officials at these prisons say they're doing this voice print stuff as a means of fraud protection and to prevent, you know, criminal activity.
GRIGSBY BATES: Well, and there may be some of that, but they have not ground down to the particulars. And so we don't really know why they're using it, why they're collecting it, what it's going to be used for, how long they're going to keep it, who else might be pulled into it - none of that stuff.
GRIGSBY BATES: Creepy.
SANDERS: Makes me think that there's probably voice prints on a lot of folks outside of prison, as well.
KAUFMAN: Do you know who's tracking these microphones right now?
GRIGSBY BATES: Maybe here at NPR. Maybe.
SANDERS: (Laughter) So there is another story that I saw this week, Karen, kind of tied to phones and privacy and data, as well. I'm sure you both saw it. This story that Facebook was using an app to collect young people's data from their phones - and they were paying young people as young as 13 years old to basically install this app and share everything their phone has. And so these kids were getting $20 gift cards.
GRIGSBY BATES: I am amazed.
SANDERS: To basically turn over all of their information.
KAUFMAN: And they probably thought nothing of it.
GRIGSBY BATES: I'm amazed that they did it for $20...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Because $20 to a kid today is, like, $3 or maybe $5 was to me when I was that age, which was, you know, money but not enough money to do what other people want you to do. So I just...
KAUFMAN: But that's exactly the point. Like, kids think nothing of giving away their data. I saw at Sundance a documentary about Cambridge Analytica and that whole scandal.
SANDERS: Oh yeah, yeah.
KAUFMAN: And, you know, even though it showed all of the harrowing ways in which our data is being just mined from us, I was like, well - after watching all of it I was, like...
SANDERS: What the...
KAUFMAN: Yeah, I mean, I was like, as long as they physically don't know where I am. I mean, just -
SANDERS: But they do.
GRIGSBY BATES: But they do. Of course, they do.
KAUFMAN: I know. I know.
SANDERS: You know what's so interesting, though? It's like, I think there is this perception that young kids are dumb about this stuff. They know all about how it works. They just care less than the rest of us, it seems?
GRIGSBY BATES: They don't care. And it's also - and I think this is also true for their elders - that convenience is more important than whatever might come out of this data collection thing.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Amy, you have three words?
KAUFMAN: I do.
KAUFMAN: OK. My words, they're a little dark.
SANDERS: It's OK.
KAUFMAN: They are revelatory, harrowing and emotional because I saw "Leaving Neverland," which is the two-part docuseries that's going to air on HBO in March about Michael Jackson and these two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say now as adult men that they realized they were sexually abused as young boys at the hands of Michael Jackson.
SANDERS: It's a 4-hour-long movie, huh?
KAUFMAN: Yeah. They're going to air it in two parts.
KAUFMAN: But it's 4 hours in total. And anyone who sees this, I think, is going to kind of have to re-evaluate their relationship with Michael Jackson because these two men - the way that they recount what happened to them is, in my opinion, incredibly authoritative and believable. And especially seeing the photos of these guys when they were 7 years old when the abuse allegedly started. You're just, like, this is a 7-year-old.
SANDERS: One was 7 and one was 10, right? Yeah.
KAUFMAN: Yeah, they just looked so little.
SANDERS: What was the mood in the room when the second part of this 4-hour film finished?
KAUFMAN: It was somber, as you might expect. I mean, they had the two men and the director walk up on stage. And they got a standing ovation. And both of the men were crying. And before the screening, a Sundance executive said, you know, this is going to be very graphic. And if anyone is too overwhelmed, we're actually going to have health counselors from the state of Utah in the lobby.
KAUFMAN: Yeah. I mean, they took it really seriously.
GRIGSBY BATES: It could be triggering for some people.
KAUFMAN: Oh, I'm sure.
GRIGSBY BATES: Because you don't really know who's in the audience or what their experiences have been. So that was smart.
SANDERS: You know, there's already been pushback from Michael Jackson's estate, from Michael Jackson fans, as you've noted. And a thing that I keep hearing is that both of these men - in the '90s, they testified in a case on Michael Jackson's behalf.
KAUFMAN: Right. This is the big sticking point for Michael Jackson fans, which is that in 1993, when Michael Jackson was first, you know, investigated for child sexual abuse, both James and Wade testified on his behalf, defending him.
KAUFMAN: And they were just boys at the time. But what they say in the film is that Jackson and his legal team were calling them nonstop and, you know, saying, you have to do this. You have to do this. If you don't testify, they're going to ruin not just me but you. You know, they don't understand us. They don't get the relationships we have. And then later in 2005, when Jackson was under investigation for similar charges, Wade Robson again testified...
KAUFMAN: ...On his behalf as an adult man. And similarly, you know, he gets into what he says now was a lot of pressure. He was a very well-known choreographer at the time for 'N Sync and Britney Spears. And he had a career on the line.
SANDERS: Oh, wait. What's his name?
KAUFMAN: Wade Robson.
SANDERS: I - he was on TV.
KAUFMAN: Yeah, he had an MTV show.
SANDERS: Oh, my goodness - that was him. I did not realize that.
KAUFMAN: I know. Yeah.
SANDERS: Oh, my goodness.
KAUFMAN: So they are now talking about what drove them to what they say was lie under oath.
SANDERS: So, Amy, there's been a few statements from the Jackson estate. What do those say?
KAUFMAN: Basically, in summary, they say that these two guys are full of it, that they are proven liars, that, you know, Michael Jackson is someone who always weathered attacks throughout his life and usually didn't fight back. But now it's so egregious that they have to. Yeah, it's basically calling out these two guys and saying they're perjurers.
SANDERS: What is, you know - part of me wants to think that this movie is happening because of the #MeToo moment, but I'm not sure. I have heard that Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement, was at the premiere at Sundance.
KAUFMAN: Yeah, I actually spoke to her. She met with the two men one night to sort of discuss, like, what it might be like for them.
GRIGSBY BATES: How would they be received after this came out.
KAUFMAN: Yeah, in the coming months.
KAUFMAN: You know, how they should handle it because she was saying to me that - she, you know, as a survivor of this kind of stuff, she receives this criticism on a daily basis. And her big point was that she thinks this film could do for the #MeToo movement - what it could do for the #MeToo movement is to talk about boys and men...
GRIGSBY BATES: Yes.
KAUFMAN: ...In a different way because while the #MeToo movement this past two years has really focused on women - and that's incredibly important - boys and men is kind of a taboo subject, still.
SANDERS: Yeah. Karen, I keep drawing parallels between this story and the story of R. Kelly, who is another black, male R&B star...
GRIGSBY BATES: Yeah.
SANDERS: ...Who has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct for years.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yeah.
SANDERS: In the last few months, it seems that R. Kelly's star has faded. But I don't think the same thing will happen to, I guess, the legacy of Michael Jackson.
GRIGSBY BATES: I think part of the reason it's going to be harder to have that happen with Michael Jackson, even if people want it to happen, is that he's perceived as - his music is perceived as more user-friendly, sort of whiter music...
SANDERS: It's crossover.
GRIGSBY BATES: ...In a lot of ways.
SANDERS: He has so much more crossover than R. Kelly ever was.
GRIGSBY BATES: Whiter music...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Than R. Kelly.
KAUFMAN: I don't know - on Twitter, I have seen a range of diversity in terms of his fans, who are at least coming for me.
GRIGSBY BATES: OK (laughter).
KAUFMAN: No, Michael Jackson.
SANDERS: Oh, OK. Yeah.
KAUFMAN: Yeah. R. Kelly also was upfront about his, like, sexual nature in his songs.
GRIGSBY BATES: Preferences. Yeah.
KAUFMAN: Like, it was right there. He was putting it out there. And MJ is, like, I love everyone. The kids are great. You know, it's very different vibes.
SANDERS: Oy. Well, I have three words, too.
KAUFMAN: OK. I hope they're not as dark.
GRIGSBY BATES: They are - please, lighten it up a bit.
SANDERS: They are the coffee's burnt. And I'm talking about Howard Schultz.
GRIGSBY BATES: (Laughter).
KAUFMAN: Oh, gosh.
SANDERS: This is Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, who announced this week that he may run for president as an independent. As soon as he says that, folks in the GOP are like, yes, yes. Run. Run. This will guarantee that Trump wins re-election because you'll split the vote of his opposition. And the Democrats are like, how dare you run? This will split the vote of Trump opposition and guarantee that he wins re-election.
And so he's had this hard time already finding a constituency. It's unclear if he is going to rely on conservative voters or liberals. If it's liberals, within one week, he has critiqued three big liberal stars. I'm talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. And he's critiqued all of them for their health care policies, for their policies on taxing the rich. And so, like, this is not a way to win liberal support - by going after the biggest liberal stars of the moment. Another thing he's already done is said that he is possibly planning on going to early caucus and primary states like Iowa, to which many people said, you don't have to go to those states 'cause if you run as an independent, you don't have to caucus or primary.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yeah. Learn the system, son.
SANDERS: Yes. And so everything about this rollout just seems like it wasn't really planned out that well.
GRIGSBY BATES: As well planned-out as Race Together.
SANDERS: Oh, when he asked...
GRIGSBY BATES: Do you recall that?
SANDERS: ...His baristas to talk about...
GRIGSBY BATES: To talk about race to everybody.
SANDERS: ...Race at the coffee store.
GRIGSBY BATES: All they wanted was a latte and to get to work on time, simple...
GRIGSBY BATES: How do you feel about police brutality? It's like you're not going to talk about that.
SANDERS: Yeah, no.
GRIGSBY BATES: For...
SANDERS: Can't do it.
GRIGSBY BATES: It's not a 5-minute conversation.
SANDERS: Yeah. So other possible independent candidates, like Michael Bloomberg, have already said, don't do this. It's not going to work. A lot of political scientists say there actually isn't a strong base of independent voters in America. A lot of voters say they're independent, but they're actually partisan. It just doesn't - I just don't know what this man was thinking.
KAUFMAN: Yeah. I mean, it is interesting that it sparked such outrage.
SANDERS: Everyone is so mad about it.
KAUFMAN: Because you would - like, the whole rhetoric I feel - I hear so often is, like, our country's too divided. Like, let's bring things to the center...
KAUFMAN: ...But what - it's exactly what you're saying. I don't know that many people actually believe in issues on both sides...
KAUFMAN: ...Of the aisle when it comes down to it.
SANDERS: What would Howard Schultz's campaign slogan be?
SANDERS: A Unicorn Latte in every pot.
GRIGSBY BATES: Relief...
KAUFMAN: Caffeine, a spike of energy to the system.
SANDERS: (Laughter) I'm into that. I'm into that. All right. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. Going to go to a break now. But coming up, I'm going to chat with sports reporter Clinton Yates about why the NFL after months, if not years, of very bad headlines saw an actual ratings increase over this past season. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. We'll be right back.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SANDERS: We are back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. I'm Sam Sanders here with two guests today - Amy Kaufman, who covers film, celebrity and pop culture at the LA Times, just back from Sundance. Overall, thumbs up or thumbs down?
KAUFMAN: You know, a lot of critics were saying thumbs down, but I'm a thumbs up because I'm a big documentary fan. And there were really good documentaries this year.
SANDERS: Good. Also here with Karen Grigsby Bates, who covers race and ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. You weren't at Sundance, but...
GRIGSBY BATES: I was not at Sundance.
SANDERS: ...You were (unintelligible) all week, which is fun.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yes.
GRIGSBY BATES: It's better than being at Sundance. I didn't need a coat.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. So question for you both. How excited are you for the Super Bowl?
GRIGSBY BATES: I'm excited for the commercials.
GRIGSBY BATES: I saw the Chance commercial of the...
SANDERS: Oh, Chance the rapper?
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Fire Doritos with the...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Backstreet Boys. Is it - OK. I might have to turn on the television just to see the commercials.
KAUFMAN: I mean, I'm usually excited just for the halftime show. And now I'm like, Maroon 5.
SANDERS: They're OK.
KAUFMAN: They're fine.
SANDERS: So you guys are actually kind of a microcosm for all of LA. There's some data that indicates that in spite of our hometown team making the big game, LA doesn't really care that much. There was a story this week that shows that more Angelenos watched the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs than actually watched the Rams beat the Saints to make it to the big game...
GRIGSBY BATES: I hope those were Patriot-hating Angelenos that were giving some love to the Chiefs.
SANDERS: (Laughter) Who knows?
KAUFMAN: Wait, Sam. I'll just admit when you - I didn't even know that the Rams were in the Super Bowl...
SANDERS: Wait, the LA Rams, our team?
GRIGSBY BATES: And see. This is part of the problem...
SANDERS: You didn't know that?
KAUFMAN: No. I just know they - I should've known it because I saw they painted the Randy's Donut...
KAUFMAN: ...To the LA Rams' color.
GRIGSBY BATES: They did.
SANDERS: Wait, what are - what's the LA Rams' color?
KAUFMAN: We're the worst people...
SANDERS: Were the worst. I was thinking this morning. I was like, you know what? If the LA Rams win the Super Bowl, I'll go to the parade if it's not too far from my house.
GRIGSBY BATES: It'll go through downtown.
KAUFMAN: You would go to the parade?
GRIGSBY BATES: He's not going to be able to miss the parade because it's going to...
SANDERS: Oh, is it going to go through downtown?
GRIGSBY BATES: I think it'll go through downtown.
SANDERS: OK. Anyway, so in spite of our general lack of interest in the NFL this season, fun fact - overall, the ratings for the league were up. So I called up a friend of the show, Clinton Yates. He is a radio host for ESPN and a columnist for ESPN's The Undefeated. He covers the sports. And I said, Clinton, let's talk about the NFL's season.
So the last time I had you here, Clinton, we talked about the NFL's troubles. And I have you here now after the NFL has had a few good weeks or months or even a good season. I mean, the ratings for the league, according to figures that they released last month for the last season, for the previous season - they were up, like, 5 percent.
CLINTON YATES: Yeah. I mean, look. By the time - once the games come around, people have forgotten about all that nonsense. And there's so many more - and I only say nonsense in the context of the deluge of storylines and information, not in terms of the importance of the topic. So...
YATES: ...For Colin Kaepernick or, you know, a domestic violence circumstance, once the games come around, people typically watch. And so I'm not entirely surprised that it's back because of the stars that we have. The Patriots are back on top. The Kansas City Chiefs have this kid named Pat Mahomes, who threw 50 touchdown passes during the regular season. His father, a guy I know - Pat Mahomes was a Major League Baseball player. So, you know, there's a fun story, you know? As soon as anybody gets anything they can hook themselves onto...
YATES: ...People tend to come back to the television for the NFL, in my opinion.
SANDERS: Yeah. It does feel really interesting, though, because to hear you allude to those plotlines and storylines - they're all still there, but it seems like they've went away. I'm talking about domestic violence with players, traumatic brain injuries, take a knee. All of those things are still issues the league is grappling with, but they all seem to be things that we've kind of stopped talking about. Why?
YATES: A little bit. I would say that because a lot of these guys who are involved in things like that typically aren't necessarily on the best teams. So by the time we get to the end of the - of this football season, we don't necessarily have them as part of our daily storylines for the teams that are playing. And so therefore, they move outside of the regular news cycle.
However, earlier this week, Roger Goodell did do his yearly state-of-the-union-of-the-NFL speech. And a lot of these things came up. You know, he harkened back to Martin Luther King because the Super Bowl is in Atlanta. He mentioned John Lewis.
And then the first question was, well, how about the fact that there's not any black coaches in the league? You know, these issues, for people that are on the 10,000-foot view, I think pay more attention. But from the week to week, because the number of teams of importance dwindles, it's difficult.
SANDERS: Exactly. You know, I also read that, you know, one of the reasons the ratings might be up for the NFL this season is because a lot of teams have had these overhauls that have led to just really fun, high-scoring games. This season had the most touchdowns in history, I read.
YATES: Yep, this is what I was referring to in terms of this kid Patrick Mahomes and the LA Rams. The Rams are a great example of this. The Rams are fun to watch.
YATES: They also happen to have a good defensive player in Aaron Donald. But yes, over the last five to 10 seasons, the offensive nature of the NFL has drastically changed - not just the records, so what you talk about in terms of touchdowns piling up is a number that was going to get higher simply by default - but also the style of play. It's harder to play defense now.
Like, I think football is more fun to watch. There are more touchdowns. You know, there's more passing. And as a result, yeah, the product is different. I think what you're going to see in the Super Bowl regarding that is an LA Rams team that likes to throw the ball around a lot. Sean McVay, their coach, a young guy - young dude who looks - you know, a lot of people like to say is a bit of a hunk. He's a handsome man.
YATES: And as a result, they sort of - you know, that team has kind of a sexy appeal to it that I think is embodied as much in the way they play football as the guys who do play it for them as well.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Well, and then, I mean, like, also, you know, speaking of LA, how much of this ratings jump can just be simple math? When teams in big media markets like LA do well...
SANDERS: ...The ratings are up.
YATES: I think that's a good point. And also, the Giants weren't good this year. Neither were the Jets. So the New York market wasn't even necessarily a bigger player than it could be. So I think in the next couple years, it might get bigger. And that wouldn't shock me.
SANDERS: You know, another thing that I'm wondering with the game this weekend, in spite of the league's ratings success and continued popularity, it seems to be less of the cultural force it once was. You know, there have been all these stories about the NFL trying to get this big name act, that big name act to play the halftime show for the big game. And people have been saying no.
Rihanna said no. Jay-Z said no. Other popular artists said no because they just don't agree with the politics of the league. Is there a certain divorcing of the NFL from a lot of the popular culture, and is that good for the league?
YATES: I think so, in terms of the first question. I do think that there has been a divorce from a lot of what the meaning of the Super Bowl halftime show is. Maroon 5 canceled their press conference that they normally do in order to talk about the halftime show.
YATES: The actual halftime act decided they did not want to talk to the media before performing in the Super Bowl.
SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah.
YATES: That alone tells you...
SANDERS: Something's up.
YATES: Yeah, a large amount, you know, of clout has been lost with the league. However, there's two ways to look at this. Number one is we never really knew in the past how many people turned down the Super Bowl to begin with because we just weren't in the same information age. And people weren't willing to come out with that sort of knowledge of, like, oh, yeah, I said no to that because everybody has a different reason.
But also, I do think things have changed. I mean, the Super Bowl is just not what it once was in terms of, you know, the eyeballs you get for that. Some people aren't ready for it. Some people just don't want that. It's not necessarily all that worth it for them for some of these bigger-name stars that they're getting - I mean, that they're shooting for. Let's not forget, the Super Bowl is not something that is so old that we can't just look back to the first one...
YATES: ...And say that we understand how far this has come. I believe that the first act at halftime of the Super Bowl, in Super Bowl I, was a high school band. It might have been a college band.
YATES: But you know what I'm saying? It's not like it was some superstar at the time, you know?
YATES: I think what it will do is it will make you look back on performances like Prince, when he performed in the rain, what Beyonce did, and you'll say, wow, these really were transcendent, not just because of the artists in their time, but because we probably won't see people this famous even doing this ever again - with all due respect to Maroon 5, who I'm a big fan of.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.
YATES: They have many bangers.
SANDERS: Oh, yeah.
YATES: Let's not get crazy about that.
YATES: They aren't on the level of the Princes and the Beyonces.
SANDERS: Come on.
YATES: They're just not, you know.
YATES: And so - and they're a different type of band. And so moving in that direction I think is an indication that maybe this won't be the big thing that it once was. And maybe it shouldn't be. You know, maybe it should be a little bit more saccharine than we've once seen. But who knows?
SANDERS: Who knows? If you could pick any halftime show for the big game, who would you pick?
YATES: Oh, that's an excellent question, Mr. Sanders.
YATES: You're clearly a professional journalist. Let me think. Right now - see, the thing is I don't hate Maroon 5 as a pick.
SANDERS: Oh, yeah, they're good.
YATES: Like, they've got a lot of hits.
SANDERS: They really do.
YATES: And so if I'm being honest, I don't really do a lot of thinking about Super Bowl halftime shows. I kind of like this one...
YATES: ...If we're being really, really real.
SANDERS: You know who I would pick? Ciara...
SANDERS: ...Because she can dance.
YATES: And she's from the ATL, yeah.
SANDERS: She's from Atlanta. Yes.
YATES: It's a good pick.
SANDERS: And, like, I think the halftime show was more about the visual than the audio because the audio's weird anyway. It's a big stadium.
SANDERS: It's not good for acoustics. But imagine her just dancing for 12 minutes on that field.
YATES: This beat is automatic...
SANDERS: Oh, yeah.
YATES: Yeah, I know.
YATES: Ciara's got some hits. I love it. That's a good call.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1, 2 STEP")
CIARA AND MISSY ELLIOT: (Singing) This beat is automatic, supersonic, hypnotic, funky fresh. Work my body, so melodic...
SANDERS: Thanks again to Clinton Yates, ESPN radio host, columnist at The Undefeated and friend of the show.
Amy, Karen - Ciara? - 'cause she's from Atlanta.
KAUFMAN: I can't name more than one of these songs. Like...
SANDERS: This is the song you know.
KAUFMAN: Like, this is a bop. But, like...
GRIGSBY BATES: This is Russell Wilson's wife?
KAUFMAN: That's how you know her?
SANDERS: She's a lady in her own right. (Laughter).
GRIGSBY BATES: OK, whatever.
SANDERS: Ciara was a big deal.
KAUFMAN: Russell Wilson's wife?
GRIGSBY BATES: I'm paying attention to Russell Wilson, mostly 'cause he looks like my kid.
KAUFMAN: Wait, what about - what about our - what about J.Lo?
SANDERS: I would watch her do the halftime show. You know, there was all this outcry about Maroon 5 being in the halftime show and not an Atlanta act.
SANDERS: So after Maroon 5 signed up for it, they did add - kind of last minute - Big Boi, one half of Outkast, who's from Atlanta. So he'll be on the stage as well. Why are you laughing?
GRIGSBY BATES: Half of Outkast is...
KAUFMAN: That's like...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...No Outkast at all.
KAUFMAN: That is not a lot of star power.
KAUFMAN: I'm sorry.
SANDERS: All right, it's time for a break. When we come back, we'll play a game other than football - my favorite game, Who Said That. BRB.
(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")
SANDERS: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. I'm Sam Sanders here with two guests - NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates, friend of the show - covers race, ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. Listeners, if you haven't, check out the Code Switch podcast and the Code Switch newsletter, which Karen writes every week.
GRIGSBY BATES: Thank you. Thank you.
SANDERS: Oh, yes. Also here with Amy Kaufman, she covers film, celebrity and pop culture at the LA Times. And you have an announcement, as well, about your book.
KAUFMAN: Yes. Next week, my book "Bachelor Nation" is coming out in paperback...
GRIGSBY BATES: Whoo.
KAUFMAN: ...On February 5, yes.
SANDERS: I love "The Bachelor." I interviewed Elan Gale, one of the EPs of the show.
KAUFMAN: Oh, then you should read book because there's a lot of juicing about him in there.
SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. I love it. You guys ready for a game, my favorite game?
SANDERS: It's called Who Said That.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA")
KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?
PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?
KENYA MOORE: Who said that?
SANDERS: All right, you guys know how this goes. It's a very simple game. I share a quote from the week. You both have to guess who said that or at least get close - get the story that I'm referring to. The winner gets absolutely nothing...
GRIGSBY BATES: If some...
SANDERS: ...Maybe some bragging rights.
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Rich person gave you something and said, Sam, this is a platinum Rolex, and I want you to give it to the winner of Who Said That...
SANDERS: I couldn't do that.
GRIGSBY BATES: You couldn't do it. Your damn integrity is just...
SANDERS: (Laughter). Also, who is this person that's going to...
SANDERS: ...Us a Rolex?
GRIGSBY BATES: I don't know.
SANDERS: Uh-huh. So there are no buzzers. Just yell out the answer or the keyword as soon as you know it. Ready for the first quote? Here we go. "I've never prepared myself for CPR in my life. I had no idea what I was doing." Who said that?
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh, that's that guy that saved somebody's life. I saw what he looks like on the news.
SANDERS: What - but there was a thing that he did based on a TV show that he had seen before.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yes, where he learned to do 30 and 2, I believe - the compressions...
SANDERS: The CPR...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...And then...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Blowing...
(SOUNDBITE OF MICROSOFT'S "TADA")
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Into the other person's mouth.
KAUFMAN: From, like, "ER" or something?
SANDERS: He learned it from watching "The Office."
KAUFMAN: Oh, gosh.
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh, that's just something I never watched.
SANDERS: Yeah. So...
GRIGSBY BATES: So...
SANDERS: ...This man in Tucson, 21-year-old Cross Scott, was driving past a car on the side of the road, hazard lights on. He stops to try to help, and there was a woman who was unconscious. He smashed the window, climbed in to help. He said, I know she needs CPR. And he said that he remembered Michael Scott in "The Office" doing chest compressions on a CPR dummy to the beat of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." This is, like, a very iconic...
KAUFMAN: Is this real?
SANDERS: ...Scene from "The Office."
GRIGSBY BATES: That is what they...
KAUFMAN: Is this...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Gave us...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...In CPR training.
SANDERS: (Laughter) Have you guys seen that scene? It's amazing.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE OFFICE")
ROBIN LYNCH: (As Rose) OK. Well, a good trick is to pump to the tune of "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Do you know that song?
STEVE CARELL: (As Michael Scott) Yes. Yes, I do. I love that song. (Singing) At first I was afraid, I was petrified.
LYNCH: (As Rose) No.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE OFFICE")
LYNCH: (As Rose) It's (singing) ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive...
CARELL: (As Michael Scott) OK, yes...
LYNCH: ...(As Rose, singing) ...Stayin' alive.
CARELL: ...(As Michael Scott) I know.
CREED BRATTON: (As Creed Bratton) You were in the parking lot earlier. That's how I know you.
SANDERS: So the scene just devolves into absurdity. But it actually worked for good this week when this guy saved a life thanks to "The Office."
KAUFMAN: That's wild.
GRIGSBY BATES: Yeah, I would say if people have the chance, anytime you get offered a chance to learn CPR training, you should do it. It doesn't take a long time, and you could save somebody's life.
KAUFMAN: Yeah, what if everyone thinks like - oh, I'm good - I'll just watch the episode?
SANDERS: It worked for Cross Scott. All right, Karen, you got that one.
GRIGSBY BATES: I guess.
SANDERS: Yeah, you were close.
GRIGSBY BATES: (Laughter).
SANDERS: I helped you out a little bit. All right, ready for the next quote?
GRIGSBY BATES: OK.
SANDERS: Quote - "it would be an incredible brand play for anyone attached to the big reveal. Our target demographic is Gen Z, and they're really attached to these big social media moments." What is a big social media reveal that's going to be happening soon? It involves a certain Instagram account that's been making waves the last few weeks.
KAUFMAN: And not Kylie.
(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)
SANDERS: Not Kylie, someone who surpassed Kylie.
GRIGSBY BATES: The egg.
KAUFMAN: The ArtSquare?
SANDERS: Yes. Karen, you got it - the egg.
(SOUNDBITE OF MICROSOFT'S "TADA")
GRIGSBY BATES: Are you kidding?
SANDERS: OK. So - yes. So you all know by now that...
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES AND AMY KAUFMAN: Ah...
SANDERS: I haven't even told you the story yet.
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh, yeah. OK.
SANDERS: So I've been following the story of the world-famous Instagram egg. A few weeks ago, someone made an account where they would just post a picture of an egg. It became the most-liked Instagram photo of all time. Since that happens, this account has been posting more photos of the same egg. But each photo has the egg being cracked more and more, as if one day the egg is going to hatch.
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh.
SANDERS: So now the thinking is...
GRIGSBY BATES: How did they know it's a fertile egg?
KAUFMAN: What's in the egg?
SANDERS: Oh, my (laughter) - the thinking is what's in...
KAUFMAN: A reporter wants to know.
SANDERS: The thinking now is, what's in the egg? And a lot of brands are trying to get their advertisements...
KAUFMAN: Oh, God.
SANDERS: ...To be in the egg...
KAUFMAN: Why is our...
SANDERS: ...When it hatches.
KAUFMAN: ...Society the actual...
GRIGSBY BATES: Everything...
GRIGSBY BATES: Everything always...
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Hinges on commerce.
SANDERS: So friend of the show Taylor Lorenz had a story in The Atlantic this week all about the egg. And she reported that an organization calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump was going to possibly be in the egg when it hatched.
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh, that billionaire guy that keeps...
SANDERS: Yeah, Tom Steyer.
GRIGSBY BATES: ...Doing the ads.
SANDERS: Tom Steyer said no, we turned them down. But...
GRIGSBY BATES: But they asked.
GRIGSBY BATES: (Laughter).
SANDERS: But the branding company behind the Instagram egg is looking for a sponsor for this big reveal.
GRIGSBY BATES: Oh, it wants the payout.
GRIGSBY BATES: So it's no longer pure.
SANDERS: It's no longer pure. Was it ever pure?
GRIGSBY BATES: Then will people even be interested?
KAUFMAN: No, it was always a scheme to show how you can create a viral moment. Right?
SANDERS: There's thinking that a possible candidate for president might announce through the egg.
KAUFMAN: Howard Schultz.
KAUFMAN: Get it back on track with that egg.
SANDERS: Starbucks does serve eggs (laughter).
GRIGSBY BATES: It does.
KAUFMAN: Not with shells. But...
SANDERS: (Laughter) True.
GRIGSBY BATES: Can it serve the American public?
SANDERS: Oy. All right, third quote - final quote - this one's my favorite, actually, of the week. The quote is "barbecue grill."
GRIGSBY BATES: Why am I so bad at this? KFC?
(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)
SANDERS: It's actually two words that weren't spoken this week. They were written on a celebrity's body as a tattoo.
KAUFMAN: Oh, Ariana Grande.
(SOUNDBITE OF MICROSOFT'S "TADA")
SANDERS: You got really excited about that.
GRIGSBY BATES: They were written on her body or tattooed on her body?
KAUFMAN: It's like her tattoo, yeah.
SANDERS: Tattoo, tattoo - tattooed. I love the enthusiasm.
KAUFMAN: She had a (unintelligible)...
GRIGSBY BATES: Of outdoor cooking equipment?
SANDERS: No. Let me explain. Let me explain.
KAUFMAN: Not intentionally.
SANDERS: She went to get a tattoo on her hand this week. She wanted to spell out in Japanese characters the words seven rings. "7 Rings" is the name of her newest big hit single, just hit No. 1. Turns out, the words that were spelled on the inside of her hand are Japanese characters that spell out a word that means a small charcoal grill...
GRIGSBY BATES: Hibachi.
SANDERS: ...Used for barbecue.
KAUFMAN: Did she or did the tattoo artist mess up?
SANDERS: So it doesn't spell hibachi. It spells shichirin, which is another word for a barbecue grill. But this happened because Ariana was supposed to get more characters that would have spelled the phrase correctly. But it hurt too much, and she stopped.
GRIGSBY BATES: OK. So she deserves that mistake.
KAUFMAN: Girl, I respect that.
SANDERS: (Laughing) In spite of your enthusiastic third response in the game for Ariana Grande, I do think Karen Grigsby Bates won the game this week.
GRIGSBY BATES: I don't know how that happened.
KAUFMAN: Congrats, Karen.
SANDERS: I helped out a lot. I helped out a lot.
GRIGSBY BATES: I don't know anything about Generation Z (laughter).
SANDERS: It's OK. It's OK. All right. Now it's time to end the show as we do every week. We ask our listeners to share with us the best things that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag. Let's listen.
GLORIA: Hi, Sam. This is Gloria (ph) in Silver Spring, Md. I'm sure this is the best thing for many people this week. But for me, it's that the partial government shutdown is finally over. And my husband and I can go back to work, and our son, who's daycare is in the federal building, can go back to school. And the joy everyone had in being able to go back to work and do our jobs was phenomenal.
ALLISON: Hi, Sam. This is Allison (ph) from Seattle. The best part of my week was seeing my 10-year-old dog explore our first house. It really made me feel like it could be our home.
ANGELA: This is Angela (ph) from Dallas, and the best thing that happened to me this week is I got a promotion.
HAYDEN: I received my acceptance letter to the University of North Carolina's Ph.D. in social work program.
MARY: I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl. Welcome to the world, Cecily Rose (ph). And congratulations, Dan and Heather (ph).
KAYE: This week, I told everyone that I am transitioning to be the woman I am meant to be. The ability to be my true self with everyone was the best thing that has happened to me this week.
LORI: Hi, Sam. This week, I wrote a check for $17,902.14 and paid off my student loans. I feel like I just slayed a dragon.
KATIE: Hey, Sam. It's Katie (ph) calling from Boston. The best thing that happened to me this week was that after 16 months of working and traveling overseas, I came home and surprised my parents. My older brother and my dad's wife helped me plan the surprise. And I just felt so loved, so it was really good to be home.
ALLISON: Thank you so much, Sam.
HAYDEN: And I hope you have a great weekend.
SANDERS: I love it.
KAUFMAN: It was so heartwarming.
GRIGSBY BATES: That was sweet.
SANDERS: Also, kudos to our friend who called in and said that she paid off her student loans...
GRIGSBY BATES: Yes.
SANDERS: ...With a check for $17,000.
GRIGSBY BATES: That was huge.
SANDERS: You're doing something right.
KAUFMAN: She's been saving.
SANDERS: She's been saving. She's been saving.
GRIGSBY BATES: And the relief must be just amazing.
SANDERS: Oh, my goodness, yeah. Many thanks to all those listeners you heard there - Gloria, Allison, Angela, Hayden (ph), Mary (ph), Kaye (ph), Lori (ph) and Katie. Listeners, we listen to all of these that come in, so share yours with me. You can just send me an audio file. Email that to firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com. And while you're at it, send photos of your dogs. We like getting those, too.
All right. We're going to go out now on Ms. Alanis Morissette and her song "Hand in My Pocket" from her classic album "Jagged Little Pill" as we celebrate the news this week that that album is coming to Broadway as a Broadway musical. I'm literally on Ticketmaster right now searching, searching, searching.
GRIGSBY BATES: You can look, but you won't be able to afford it.
GRIGSBY BATES: It's going to be like "Hamilton."
GRIGSBY BATES: You know, wait for two or three years for the road show.
SANDERS: Yeah. You're right. You're right. Thanks to my guests today - NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates, who covers race, ethnicity and culture for our Code Switch team and Amy Kaufman, covering film, celebrity and pop culture for the LA Times.
Thank you both for being here. I really appreciate it.
KAUFMAN: Thank you.
GRIGSBY BATES: Our pleasure.
SANDERS: Oh, yeah. This week, the show was produced by Brent Baughman, Anjuli Sastry and Alex McCall. The show was engineered by Marcia Caldwell. Steve Nelson is our director of programming. Our editor is Jordana Hochman, and we got editing help this week from my good friend Muthoni Muturi. Thanks for joining us, Mathoni. She took a break from D.C., Washington political news to help us out. We appreciate you. Our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann.
Listeners, refresh your feed Tuesday morning for my chat with Angie Thomas. You probably know her as the best-selling author of the young adult novel "The Hate U Give." She finished this book while she was working as a church secretary. We talk about how her life has changed since then. We talk about her new book, and she even raps for me a little bit. All right. Check for that one on Tuesday. Till next time, thanks for listening. Talk soon.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALANIS MORISSETTE SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
SANDERS: I forget - did she play the harmonica in this one herself?
KAUFMAN: I don't know. But I saw recently that her hair is shorter. And like...
KAUFMAN: I know. I was like, no. I picture her in such a specific way with that long black mane...
KAUFMAN: ...And like, the rage in her face. I'm like, please, don't be happy or cut any inches from your hair.
GRIGSBY BATES: She has to stay caught in amber for the rest of her life.
GRIGSBY BATES: Poor Alanis.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAND IN MY POCKET")
MORISSETTE: (Singing) And the other one's giving a peace sign. I'm free, but I'm focused. I'm green, but I'm wise. I'm hard, but I'm friendly, baby. I'm sad, but I'm laughing.
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