Chatter

Share

"The Day After" with Nicholas Meyer

Season 1, Ep. 28

This week, Shane Harris speaks to filmmaker Nicholas Meyer about the renewed threat of nuclear war amid the conflict in Ukraine. Meyer directed the 1983 film “The Day After,” which remains the most-watched film in television history. The story follows a group of Kansans before, during, and after a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It shocked hundreds of millions of viewers--including President Ronald Reagan--with its graphic depiction of the ferocious power of nuclear weapons and the poisonous, lingering fallout that made the world effectively uninhabitable. 


Meyer has had a remarkable career as a storyteller. He directed Hollywood blockbusters including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Time After Time. He is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter and an accomplished novelist. He and Shane talked about making The Day After, a film Meyer thought might never make it to air. He felt he had a duty to tell the story as a warning to the world, and hoped it would prevent Reagan from winning reelection. That didn’t happen, but, as Shane and Nick discuss, The Day After did change Reagan’s thinking about the nature of nuclear war, and thus helped alter the course of history. 


The lessons of Meyer’s film resonate loudly again today, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. 


Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.


Works discussed in this episode include:

Nicholas Meyer’s website: https://www.nicholas-meyer.com/ 

Read about The Day After: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After 

Learn more about Television Event, a documentary about the 1983 film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_Event 

Watch the 1983 ABC News town hall that followed the movie’s premiere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3CLeA2bOKU


More Episodes

9/29/2022

Hurricanes and Governmental Response with Eric Jay Dolin

Season 1, Ep. 50
Every year, the eastern United States faces the prospect--and, too often, the reality--of major hurricanes that cause extensive physical and financial damage. This year is no exception; even as Hurricane Ian approaches the Gulf Coast, more storms are likely in the coming weeks.David Priess chatted with author Eric Jay Dolin about the history of Atlantic hurricanes, with a special focus on such storms' influence on U.S. national security. They spoke about the devastating 2017 hurricane season, how tropical systems are covered in the media, Ben Franklin's role in hurricane science, the role of Caribbean hurricanes in the American Revolution and the Spanish-American War, the evolution of the federal government's storm forecasting and crisis response efforts, hurricane hunter flights, attempts to use technology to disrupt massive storms, Hurricane Andrew (1992), the effects of climate change on tropical systems and their impact, viewing hurricanes as national security threats, how humans assess risk, and films about hurricanes.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book A Furious Sky by Eric Jay DolinOther books by Eric Jay DolinThe film The Day After TomorrowThe film The Perfect StormThe film Violent Earth: New England's Killer Hurricane of 1938The film Titanic
9/22/2022

Josephine Baker, Singer and Spy, with Damien Lewis

Season 1, Ep. 49
In her day, Josephine Baker was one of the most famous women in the world. Fans recognized the superstar singer, actress, and dancer everywhere she went, particularly on the streets of Paris, where she often walked a pet cheetah on a diamond leash. Why would anyone think such a conspicuous person might make the perfect spy? Author Damien Lewis set out to answer that question in his latest book, “Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy.” It chronicles Baker’s remarkable career as an agent for French counterintelligence during WWII. Baker participated in numerous clandestine missions, and her work informed British and U.S. intelligence as well. Baker left the United States in the Jim Crow era and was embraced by French audiences. But she became a target of Nazi propagandists. When Germany invaded France, Baker devoted herself to the Resistance and the Allies’ cause. It turned out that her performing talents were well suited to work as an intelligence agent. Baker used her connections to get close to Axis VIPs, including in the Italian government, who didn’t know she was passing valuable details from their conversations back to her French compatriots. She used her extraordinary fame as a cover, at times hiding secret documents practically in plain sight while on tour. Lewis and Shane Harris discussed Baker’s remarkable and little known espionage career, which reveals much about the inner life of one of the 20th Century’s biggest stars. Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.Among the works mentioned in this episode:Damien Lewis’ book, “Agent Josephine:” https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/damien-lewis/agent-josephine/9781541700666/ Lewis’ other books” https://damienlewis.com/books/ Lewis on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authordlewis Baker and Lewis in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/08/15/josephine-baker-was-the-star-france-wanted-and-the-spy-it-needed-damien-lewis-agent-josephine Baker inducted into the Pantheon: https://www.npr.org/2021/11/30/1059776777/josephine-baker-france-pantheon 
9/15/2022

CIA Paramilitary Ops in Reality and Fiction

Season 1, Ep. 48
Of all of the Central Intelligence Agency's activities, paramilitary operations might remain the least understood. This, in part, is both a cause and a consequence of inaccurate portrayals of such work in prominent movies; it's also because fewer memoirs come from the CIA's Special Activities Division than from traditional human intelligence collectors and from analysts. David Priess chatted with former CIA officer Ric Prado about the fiction and the reality of CIA paramilitary operations, including stories Ric tells in his book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. They spoke about what Hollywood gets wrong about intelligence work, Ric's escape as a child from Castro's Cuba, his path to a CIA career, differences between paramilitary operations and intelligence collection, his years of work with the Contras in Central America, the Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at CIA before and on 9/11, the work ethic in CTC after 9/11, why his book has substantial chunks of redacted text, and who he thinks played the best James Bond.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by David Priess with Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo, with additional editing by Cara Shillenn. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior by Ric PradoThe film ArgoThe film Three Days of the CondorThe Jason Bourne filmsThe film True LiesThe Mission Impossible filmsThe James Bond films