This week the big night is Friday, and the big guest is Morgan Freeman. He will be on three times, though his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live is a recent repeat. He’s promoting his latest film, Dolphin Tale 2, in which he plays a prosthetics researcher. On Thursday he will be on The Talk. Friday night starts with Freeman’s recent appearance with Jimmy Kimmel. Freeman’s other appearance that night is with Craig Ferguson, and it stands an excellent chance of veering into weirdness.
There are other guests of note this week. On Tuesday, Conan O’Brien will be all kinds of awkward with urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman. Terry Gilliam, director of the new dystopic science fiction film The Zero Theorem, makes two appearances this week. The film tells the story of a computer program seeking the meaning of life through his work. On Wednesday Gilliam will be on The Tonight Show, and on Thursday he will visit with Stephen Colbert. Also on Thursday, one of the leads of Manhattan, John Benjamin Hickey, will be on Bravo’s late night talker, Watch What Happens Live.
It is almost one month to the day before How We Got To Now, Steven Johnson’s program on innovation and their histories, premieres on PBS (a BBC co-production, it should be available contemporaneously in the U.K.). Johnson is a web entrepreneur and science writer, and this is not his first work engaged with the history of science and technology.
Prior to the October 15 debut, the tie-in book will be released. There will also be an innovation hub linked to the program. Back in April it was announced that the Knight Foundation would support the effort to the tune of $250,000. The hub is intended to foster innovation in communities, trying to replicate the coffeehouses and salons where people met to share ideas and foster innovation during earlier eras. What might be special about this hub, and how it might distinguish itself from similar spaces, might be its emphasis on civic spaces. But that probably won’t become clear until the show (and the hub) launch next month.
Mission Control is a comedy pilot picked up by the NBC network for airing in the U.S. sometime midseason. Taking place in the 1960s, it focuses on a female aerospace engineer who manages a team of NASA scientists. The conflict in the program comes from her having to deal with a new co-manager, a former test pilot.
The two leads are Krysten Ritter and Tommy Dewey. What I’m really excited about is the presence of Malcolm Barrett and Jonathan Slavin in supporting roles. They played research scientists in the criminally underappreciated Better Off Ted. That program was a comedy set in a modern-day research and development company. The satire there, as I suspect it will be in Mission Control, was focused more on the work environment than on the science and/or technology involved.
While new programs will be rolling out over the next few weeks on the broadcast networks, Mission Control will debut later in the season.
Hieroglyph is new to the game when it comes to science fiction projects developed with stimulating innovation in mind (here’s an excerpt if I haven’t been sufficiently persuasive about the project). MIT Technology Review has been at it, and for longer, as Motherboard let me know recently.
This year the magazine has published its third science fiction issue/edition, called Twelve Tomorrows. The 12 stories come from top-flight science fiction authors, with an emphasis on on both the future technologies and the consequences they encourage.
For what it’s worth, Twelve Tomorrows is cheaper (being a magazine and all), but both it and Hieroglyph are available in electronic and dead tree editions, and should prove good fodder for forward-looking reflection on science and technology policy. (You can also order the previous editions of Twelve Tomorrows)
Today Hieroglyph is available in dead tree and electronic editions. The anthology is co-edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn and has 17 different stories. You may recognize several of the names, depending on how much science fiction and/or science journalism you read. Many of the authors also have scientific training. There are promotional events for the book scheduled throughout September across North America.
Hieroglyph is the namesake of Project Hieroglyph, hosted at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University (Ed Finn, co-editor of the anthology, is the Director). You can hear more about the Center from Finn in this April 2014 radio program. Hieroglyph is a collaborative space and research effort on the nature of that collaboration. There are discussion fora and groups organized around the iconic ideas or projects that are considered modern hieroglyphs. At the moment there’s the book, a very tall tower, and a massively multiplayer online education game listed amongst the projects.
The space is open to everyone 13 or older. You will need to register in order to participate. I’d recommend you review the site’s terms of service and data privacy statements before committing.
Added September 10 – Kunal Nayyar, who plays a scientist on The Big Band Theory, will be on Conan Thursday night.
Well, the summer repeats are over. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect more science and technology guests, just that there are more new shows.
The newest kid on the late night block, Seth Meyers, returns to these posts. On Tuesday he will host Jeff Kluger, science and technology reporter at TIME. On Thursday, Harry Connick, Jr., who plays a marine veterinarian in Dolphin Tale 2, will visit with Seth. (Connick will appear on Ellen this Friday.) Also on Thursday, Jimmy Kimmel will talk with Connick’s co-star Morgan Freeman. Freeman plays a prosthetic researcher in the film.
In non-guest late night content, once again recent episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have something to offer. On August 5, The Daily Show covered the Ebola outbreak. That same day, The Colbert Report covered a translation program that used elderly Americans to assist Brasilians with their English, by way of videoconference.
The last personnel change in American late night, for now, has been finalized. James Corden will take over for Craig Ferguson on The Late, Late Show sometime in 2015. Ferguson’s last original program is December 19th. With no sense of what Corden has planned for his show, it’s hard to say how he might approach science and technology content or guests. Corden is from England, and has experience hosting panel shows in the United Kingdom, in addition to his acting work.
Baba Brinkman is working on his latest Rap Guide, and using Kickstarter to fund animations for the songs. The Kickstarter effort is closing on Tuesday, and he has a fair piece to go before hitting his goal and funding the project.
The Rap Guide to Evolution will examine the evolution of religion through behavioral sciences. Eight songs are already completed, and supporters will receive downloaded tracks upon pledging. Brinkman has performed the Rap Guide over the summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival so the collected funds will be focused on the animations that will augment the album.
As you might guess, I have pledged funds to the project, and encourage you to do the same.