Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, and Hari Kunzru Dish on Employee of the Month

What do you get when an esteemed novelist, an iconic face of the feminist movement and a political commentator walk into a theater in the East Village to ruminate on their careers? Juggling, tap dancing and a puddle of Applejack on the floor, basically.

Last night at the UCBeast, Catie Lazarus mounted the holiday party edition of Employee of the Month, the comedienne’s hilarious podcast talk show that explores the ins and outs of various industries via the working experiences of its illustrious (and often infamous) guests. Amy Sedaris, Morgan Spurlock, Kevin Clash and Jodi Kantor have all previously joined Lazarus to reminisce about their lives before and after the landing of their respective dream jobs, and Employee of the Month brought forth a banger of a lineup with Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem and Hari Kunzru to close out a solid year of night shift woes and odd-job horror stories.

Though the consistently superlative string of filmmaking, comedic, musical and journalistic hotshots have provided Lazarus with plenty of fodder for Employee of the Month’s episodes, last night’s program may have been her most ambitious to date given the company present. Navigating a controversial talking point while successfully topping it off with a punch line is a difficult feat, but Lazarus seamlessly achieved this in each of her conversations, which covered everything from Kunzru’s fleeing India for reading a passage from The Satanic Verses in front of an audience to Steinem getting tested for STDs in order to work at the Playboy Club to Maddow’s professional leap from activism to joining the media. Peppered throughout the knowledge bombs were a few WTF/giggle-worthy anecdotes, including immigration advice from Kunzru (“If you don’t want to go to the little room at customs, say you write about UFOs”), Steinem’s criteria for liking a job (“You never know what time it is and if you do the job anyway without getting paid—that’s when you love your work”) and Maddow’s take on her own work ethic (“I do not believe in the romance of struggle! I believe in the joy of winning!”).

The highlights of the evening—and the endearing, eccentric edge that sets Employee of the Month apart from other digi-talk shows—occurred when Lazarus would seize the moment to mess with her guests, and this is where the Applejack comes into play. After grabbing an audience member’s glass of sangria to quench Kunzuru’s thirst during their interview, Lazarus proceeded to hand him three balls and asked him to juggle, referring to a time when the writer was in between jobs and trying to make a quid juggling in bars while hyping energy drinks. When Steinem referred to securing investors for creation and publication of New York Magazine as “tap dancing for rich people,” she later wound up shuffling offstage while doing a soft-shoe. Maddow, fresh off the set of The Rachel Maddow Show, was handed an armful of bottles (and an “I’d Rather Be Reading Jane Austen” apron) in order to mix a drink of her choosing, and when Lazarus was handed a glass without an introduction, the hostess wound up spitting the straight applejack out, much to the audience’s (and Maddow’s) delight.

It’s a delicate balance between real talk and real funny, and Lazarus was able to engage with these great minds in such an approachable way that they laughed along with her jokes—and not for the sake of the packed room or rolling cameras before them. Anyone who can talk politics with Rachel Maddow after unsuccessfully swilling Applejack—and conversely, who can somehow get Gloria Steinem to tap dance onstage—is okay in my book, so Lazarus, keep the shop talk coming.

Morgan Spurlock Making 3D Documentary About One Direction, Because Why The Hell Not?

Looks like Morgan Spurlock will be making The Greatest Movie Ever Sold after all. During an appearance on The Today Show on Tuesday, mega-headliner British boy band/popular subjects of Tumblr slash fiction One Direction announced they would be starring in a 3-D concert documentary, and that Spurlock, best known for the 2004 Oscar-nominated doc Super Size Me, would direct. Because why the hell not? The Band had Scorsese at their finest hour; the Talking Heads had Jonathan Demme. And now One Direction has Morgan Spurlock. It sounds about right, in a weird way.

"I’m delighted we’re making this film and Morgan is the perfect person to give that access-all-areas, behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be One Direction today," Simon Cowell, the scowling curator of The X-Factor-turned-producer, said in a statement. "What the band have achieved is incredible, they and their fans have made history around the world – this is for them."

This is probably a better career move for Spurlock than it is for One Direction. People are going to see this movie regardless of who directs it because singing British teens—I mean, the Bieber 3D concert film didn’t have a Jonathan Demme behind it (it did, however, have the dude responsible for Step Up 2: The Streets, which is a treasure of modern cinema, so no hate there either). Although Spurlock has been crazy busy the past few years still making films in the wake of his almost dying to show us how dangerous fast food is while simultaneously making some viewers want it more and his recent films like The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope have been met with positive reviews, commercial reception has been a lot quieter compared to his hit. 

And yea, millions of teens will flock to cinemas worldwide during Labor Day weekend 2013 to see if Spurlock is indeed able to illuminate them about anything they didn’t already know about the Factor Five—and Spurlock has quite a challenge ahead of him if he wants to get past the group’s PR team and really get some personal dirt. Anyway, in case you haven’t had enough 1D today, here are the lads performing on the Today Show, where they drew in a record crowd of 15,000 fans:

Movies Opening This Weekend, In Order of How Much We Love Their Trailers

Some people judge a movie based on reviews, other will go see something just because it features a favorite actor. Here, we’re judging this weekend’s offerings based solely on what we see in the trailers and ranking them accordingly.

Virginia: This Dustin Lance Black-penned family flick looks to have plenty of black humor and oddball antics, though there’s surely a heart of gold somewhere. High points for creative use of Jennifer Connelly, though, and the deployment of gorilla masks. This is the trailer to top this week.

Hysteria: Beneath the frilly costumes and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s admirable attempt to pull off a British accent, this is a movie about vibrators and that seems hilarious. Now we’re not sure that a feature-length film about the antics of a doctor whose only job is to fingerblast nervous patients into a happy haze will work, but for two minutes of trailer, it’s a great idea.

Mansome: A documentary on male grooming from Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman, this movie looks very promising based solely on the trailer. We’ve got celebrities talking about body hair, we’ve got extreme modifications and we’ve got the always-moronic musings of Adam Corolla, all of which add up to be an enlightening, weird and exceedingly metrosexual good time.

American Animal: A sick guy on a bender is betrayed by his roommate who… got a job? The premise isn’t quite clear from the trailer, however this SXSW-approved indie looks like a hell of a lot of oddball fun.

Battleship: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna and Aleksander Skarsgard are on a navy ship when some aliens come knocking… No it’s not a bad joke, it’s an action movie. And despite what the reviews are saying, the trailer manages to deliver some kind of Top Gun meets War of the Worlds excitement that would convince us to see this on.

Beyond The Black Rainbow: No doubt the spookiest trailer for a film opening this week, this look at indie sci-fi joint Beyond The Black Rainbow is weird and exciting to watch but leaves us with no clue about what to expect and even less of an idea why we should part with our time and money to see it.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting: Ladies having babies and going crazy! We’re sure there are some folks out there for whom this is a very exciting film. We are not those people.

Afternoon Links: There Is A Kurt Cobain Solo Album, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Might Be Dating

● According to Hole’s Eric Erlandson, Kurt Cobain recorded an full solo album — what "would have been his White Album" — before he died. So probably, Kurt will preform the album in full as a hologram at Coachella next year. [NME]

● To few’s surprise, Urban Outfitters is stocking yet another questionable tee shirt. It’s almost like racism is a part of their agenda or something. [D+T]

● Vincent Gallo is suing the City of Los Angeles over their Arts District Business Improvement District, an organization that is supposed to be using tax dollars to clean-up and beautify the Downtown Arts District. Gallo, however, does not think they are up to the task and he wants his money back. [TMZ]

● In this week’s episode of A Day In The Life, the boys of Das Racist take Morgan Spurlock to Guitar Center and to meet Philip Glass. Watch the whole affair on Hulu. [Prefix]

● Cam’ron announced on Twitter late last that, beginning today and excepting weekends, he will release a track a day for the next 30 days. The hashtag’s #UNLostFiles, for those that will be collecting. [Complex]

● Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis — both, of course, of That 70’s Show fame — went out dinner and touched hands. According to one bystander, "She looked hot," and so it "was definitely more than a dinner between friends." Assume what you will! [Page Six]

● The Pulitzers are here! Did you get yours? No? Next year. [Poynter]

How’s Your Movember Mustache Coming?

The month of November is 70% over. Have you been growing your Movember mustache? If not, there’s still time. First, you need to know what the heck I’m talking about. Movember is about raising awareness—and money—for the fight against prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. And growing an outrageous mustache during the month of November is a fun, funny, quirky, and, well, hipstery way to do it. So, Movember mustaches are hot. But even if your facial hair-growing abilities are limited, there are other ways to help

First of all, donate money. Movember is the real deal, so if you send a couple of shekels their way, you don’t have to worry that you’re just buying some sham charity bigwig another ivory backscratcher. Nope, the bread goes to research toward a cure. 
Next, buy a bunch of Movember stuff. Nifty gear like Toms Shoes, Streaker Sports shorts, and Palmer Cash tee-shirts with hi-larious mustache-related slogans are available, and every purchase advances the cause. You could dress in head-to-toe Movember merch, and you’d be the bee’s knees. 
Finally, drink Foster’s Australian beer, because they’re proud partners of Movember, and that kind of thing ought to be encouraged. Plus: Beer!
So, as worthy as the cause is on its own, I know that some people automatically tune out when they hear the dreaded C-word (charity). Kudos to the Movember folks for infusing this important issue with fun. And it is personal. My dad had prostate cancer, but he’s better now, thanks to a weird surgery involving frickin’ laser beams. But those laser beams need research and funding to do the magic they do, so grow your ‘staches, donate your money, wear the gear, and support cool people like Kevin Connolly and Morgan Spurlock, who are throwing their weight and whiskers behind the cause. Grow, groom, give, and feel good. 

Morgan Spurlock on His Comic-Con Doc, Reality TV, & Bin Laden’s Death

Tonight on Current TV, Morgan Spurlock hosts 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die, a five-part miniseries that counts down the top must-see docs of all times. Expect the classics, like Roger and Me, Hoop Dreams, and Thin Blue Line, but according to Spurlock (director of Super Size Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?) we can also expect some surprises. We recently spoke to Spurlock, who was hard at working putting the finishing touches on his next film, Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope, about the evolution of the documentary, reality TV, and where he was when he found out Osama bin Laden had been killed.

Now that you’re finishing this film, is it what you imagined going into the project? Yeah, I love Comic-Con in general—I’m such a nerd. Comic books were one of the things I used to turn to as an escape. The whole film was spurned out of a conversation I had with Stan Lee when I first met him two years ago at Comic-Con. He was like, You know Morgan, we should make a movie together about Comic-Con! And literally out of him saying that, we came up with the idea for Comic-Con: Episode Four, that we basically co-produced with Stan and with Joss Whedon. A geek dream team.

Is the film told from a fan’s perspective? It’s told from a fan’s perspective as well as a writer’s and director’s. We’re all fans. This is something that’s affected all of us in some way. So what we do is we follow seven people into Comic-Con and tell the story of Comic-Con through their eyes, with a bunch of interviews and stories from people who’ve been going there for years.

Are you in the film? I’m not in one frame.

That’s new for you. It’s great, I kind of like it.

What do you consider to be the most important development in documentary filmmaking in the last 25 years? I think that there was a real commercialization. I remember when I went to NYU around ’91, there were movie theaters that were showing all these documentaries like Brother’s Keeper, and for me it was the realization that these films had made their way into theatrical distribution, and were getting more popular. A film like Hoop Dreams literally transcended documentary film. It didn’t matter who you were, you were talking about this movie. There were people like him, like Errol Morris, Michael Moore, who really started to push the genre in a way to being a popular filmmaking genre.

Is reality television a form of documentary? Yeah, Super Size Me came out at the beginning of the reality boom. I think reality television has been co-opted and turned into something else, but at the same time it lets regular people be interesting, and shows they can have a good story. Now it’s been so shifted and scripted and turned into something else, but I think people are still making real docu-series and real documentaries for television and creating good programs. I’m a believer that reality television has helped documentary film. A lot of people don’t agree with me but I really do.

What was the coolest thing about making the current miniseries? I loved going around and meeting people you’ve seen in a films, like when I got to meet Mr. Brainwash. I was so excited because one, he’s fantastic, but he also caters to everything I love. I love lowbrow art, and I collect street art, so to kind of get to meet him was something I was really, really excited about. Did you know who he was before you had seen the film? Getting to meet the kids that are all grown up from Hoop Dreams was something I was really excited about. I remember seeing the film 20 years ago. Seeing that film then, and now seeing these guys, hearing where they are in their lives 20 years later, is remarkable. It’s a cool thing to see the lasting impact. There is a legacy with a lot of these movies, and to see that legacy living on and to understand how it affected them as participants is really interesting and enlightening.

What about meeting the other filmmakers? Are you part of a documentary brotherhood? The thing about documentary films is that it’s not so huge field, so it can’t be filled with a lot of assholes. It’s a still a club where people support one another, people help one another. You can pick up the phone and call someone.

Were you surprised when you found out where bin Laden actually was? Well, the overwhelming majority of people we spoke to sent us to Pakistan. And when we were filming in Islamabad, we were about 20 miles away from where they ultimately captured him, which is pretty remarkable.

How did you find out the news and what was your reaction? I was at home on my couch, and all the sudden my phone started blowing up. The Twitterverse went nuts and people were emailing me and texting me and I was trying to watch a movie. My phone was buzzing nonstop, and for the next two hours I was transfixed.

Has it changed the way you see your own film now? I think it changed how a lot of other people saw that film. I always thought the film was pretty good, but I think it gave a lot of credibility to the film that it didn’t have before.

Have you considered directing a scripted film? Absolutely. I’ve wanted to make narratives ever since I was a kid. Those were the movies that made me want to make movies, so for me to get the chance to make a feature film sometime in the next year would be great. When Super Size Me first came out, I got sent a lot of scripts. People were like, “That movie’s funny! We’ve got to send him some great comedies!” I was sent a Revenge of the Nerds remake, I was sent a new Deuce Bigalow movie, and I was like, “Absolutely not, these are not the movies that I want to be making right now.” And then Thank You for Smoking came out and that was a great example of a scripted film I’d like to make. There’s one film that’s with Leonardo DiCaprio’s company that I’m attached to, which hopefully will happen.

SXSW Diary Day 5: Morgan Spurlock Sells Out, Music Officially Begins

Earlier in the week, when for a few days movies took center stage at the SxSW conference, I saw Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film about product placement that he funded entirely by product placement. Spurlock—who made a name for himself by torpedoing McDonald’s with his 30-day Big Mac binge in Super Size Me—is at his best when he plays the everyday American lampooning the massive corporate machine. Which is why The Greatest Movie Ever Sold may be the most important documentary at the SXSW conference this year, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has more event sponsors then ever before.

There were 40% more attendees at this year’s interactive conference than last year, and it was reportedly the first year badge holders were turned away from the 1,200-seat Paramount theater, for the film portion’s opening premiere of Source Code. I grew up in Austin, and vividly remember going to SXSW during its fledgling first decade, when a wristband could get you into just about anything, and parties— where you could chat with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Stephen Soderbergh and Robert Rodriguez—weren’t sponsored or publicized.

After the doc screened and Spurlock proudly strutted the stage during the Q&A, wearing his suit jacket emblazoned with corporate sponsorship logos, the unspoken questions seemed to be: How big can the SXSW conference get before commerce begins to affect creativity? Has it already happened? The answer came on Day 5, when both the Chris Hardwicke-hosted Interactive Awards, which were surprisingly entertaining, and Film Awards were handed out, all to relatively small tech companies and independent films. This appears to signal that that major corporate sponsorship hasn’t truly affected the conference, at least not quite yet.

With Interactive officially done and Film with only a few major premieres left, Music is finally let loose Tuesday night, and the crowds stormed the clubs and streets. I headed to the heart of it on “Dirty 6th,” checking into the first-part of a Pitchfork showcase at the now-classic Emo’s. No Joy had two teenaged chick rockers with a Warpaint vibe that may be more memorable upon maturity.

From there, it’s squeezing into the overcrowded Latitude 30, which has been dubbed the “British Music Embassy” for the run of the conference, hosting a collection of Brit Pop, rock, and metal groups, from across the pond. I see The Boxer Rebellion, whose melodic rock feels years more mature then the band looks, and is pleasantly deafening after an extended sound-check. The sample and pop-culture obsessed Das Racist trio tears it up at Maggie Mae’s after that, putting on what is undoubtedly the most entertaining performance of the night. At Casino El Camino, I grab a burger and observe already exhausted patrons trying to focus on their schedules and SXSW apps, to see if there are any shows worth going to before the sun rises at 6:30am, when Malford Milligan will take a small stage in the lobby lounge of the Four Seasons hotel and the Music will finally, officially, begin.

Morgan Spurlock on Harvey Weinstein, ‘The Simpsons’, and His Upcoming Comic-Con Movie

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock burst on to the scene in 2004 with the cinderella success that was Super Size Me. The pure novelty of the idea struck a chord with the viewing public and when all was said and done, the film wound up being one of the most profitable documentaries of all time as well as earning its director an Academy Award nomination. His mix of daredevil bravado come self-destructive sadism quickly led to Spurlock’s profile rising to that of second-best known documentary filmmaker in the country. But where do you go from a month of eating only at America’s most beloved fast food chain? Television, of course. Following the recipe that led to his initial success, Spurlock developed 30 Days, a program for FX that’s three seasons ran from 2005 to 2008. The show’s concept is essentially the McDonalds diet expanded into the more controversial water-cooler topics of American life. 30 Days hits DVD shelves this week as a complete series and I had the opportunity to talk to Spurlock about the role of documentary in today’s society, his favorite Simpsons episode, and just what it’s like working with Harvey Weinstein.

Was there anything you did on 30 Days that was deemed too dangerous? No, I mean FX was incredibly supportive. The one thing that they put the kibosh on was when we were doing the immigration episode. One of the things I wanted to do, to explore what illegal immigrants have to go through to get into America, I wanted to go to Mexico and have a coyote literally bring me across the border.

That sounds pretty cool. Yeah, which would have been great. It takes days, you’re in the desert, people die every year doing it. I said this would be a great thing to do, and they went to FX legal and they said no and then they took it to lobbyists in Washington D.C., because it’s Rupert Murdoch and he’s got a huge giant corporation. Basically, their media people in DC were like “there is no way he is going to be allowed to go across the border illegally.”

What’s the worst situation you’ve been put in on the show? Prison by far is the worst thing ever. I would never wish prison on anybody. It’s a real wake-up call.

So, why documentary? I always wanted to do narrative filmmaking and I probably still will at some point. Before I made Super Size Me, I was writing plays in New York City. Super Size Me was just one of those films that when we got the idea, I just loved what it was. We had like fifty grand in the bank, so the idea was, let’s make a film. So then when I was home for Thanksgiving, I got the idea to make Super Size Me and I came back and we all loved it and it went from there.

Do you ever eat fast food these days? No, I am so done. I haven’t eaten fast food, like a big McDonald’s or Burger King type chain in five, six years. When I’m in L.A., I like an In-N-Out Burger once in a while. There’s another place I love in L.A. called Tommy’s. I love the original Tommy Burger at Beverly and Rampart. A good chili cheeseburger there at around midnight, it’s a great thing to have once a year.

That sounds pretty good. Maybe twice.

At most. Now, I read that there’s a comic book adaptation of Super Size Me in the works. The thread of what Super Size Me is about, me going on this diet and the things we discovered along the way is in there, but it’s more stories from other people that we got who worked in fast food restaurants. Their own horror stories from behind the closed doors of fast food. I think people are going to really dig it. It’s going to be really funny. We’ve got some of the best graphic novel artists in the world working on it.

What filmmakers or documentarians are influences on your work? There’s so many people that I look up to, Steve James who did Hoop Dreams and Stevie. I just love that guy, I think he’s a brilliant filmmaker.

It’s pretty incredible the way Hoop Dreams plays out almost like a Hollywood narrative. And in terms of that, I love the movie Brother’s Keeper which is probably my favorite documentary of all time. It’s by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky.

On your new movie Freakonomics, you collaborated with Seth Gordon who did The King of Kong. King of Kong is such a great film. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to jump on Freakonomics. They started talking to me about all of the other filmmakers they were going out to. I think I was the first one to sign on, but then they started talking about going out to Alex Gibney, Jarecki, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grading. These are people I have so much respect for as filmmakers, to just be in that group of filmmakers would be such an honor.

Do you think having a leftwing President is going to hinder liberal documentarians such as yourself and Michael Moore? Jon Stewart’s still on the air, you know, Stephen Colbert, those guys still have stuff to talk about. Just because he was elected doesn’t mean all of the problems just magically go away. I think there’s still so much to deal with from our health care system to education to race in America, the class divide that we have.

What do you think the role of the documentary is in today’s society? From my standpoint, I think there are few places where you can really express an outlook or a view that isn’t the view of whoever the mothership is. Every form of media is controlled by like, five companies, and so many of those companies exercise their editorial control over what you do. So where do you really have free speech? Where do you have the ability to put out questions or arguments that are going to get people to think in a different way than through independent documentary films? Michael Moore’s in a category all by himself. I think his box office average per movie is something like 17 or 18 million dollars.

Your film Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden ? was distributed by the Weinstein Company. They were incredibly helpful. Harvey is really brilliant in terms of storytelling. It was the first time I’ve ever had a distributor who was basically involved in the film while we were still editing the film. Harvey gives great advice about notes, gives great advice about cutting the film and what he thinks you should and shouldn’t do to make it better. That’s where Harvey’s real gift is, it’s when you’re finishing a movie.

Harvey Weinstein’s notoriously outspoken. You never had any problems with the two of you butting heads over anything? We had a great relationship. We were releasing the film when times were tough for our distributors and we ended up probably not getting as much money put into the release of our film as would have been great, but you can’t fault somebody for running their business. At the end of the day, the film’s still out, it’s still getting seen and I get stopped by people all the time who’ve seen the movie. For me it’s still getting it’s legs out. The Weinstein Company is finishing their deal with Hulu right now, so Where in the World will be on Hulu, I think in the next month or two, which will be fantastic.

I just watched your documentary about The Simpsons, which I really liked because I’m a fan of the show. I love what Joe Montegna said: People who say they don’t like The Simpsons, it’s like people who say they don’t like dogs. Who the fuck doesn’t like a dog?

Do you have a favorite episode? I have a special fondness for “King-Size Homer” where he gets completely obese and goes on disability.

That’s a good one. And I love the tomacco episode where he becomes a farmer outside of town and grows the tobacco infused tomatoes.

Do you still find the show funny? There are people who say it’s not as funny as it used to be and that it was so much better ten years ago. Turn on The Simpsons on any night and even if it’s an off night in terms of what the episode is, it’s still better than 80 percent of what’s on television.

I suppose that’s true. I’d rather watch a bad episode of The Simpsons than most of the stuff that’s on the CW.

What’s your next project? Right now we’re trying to do a movie on San Diego Comic-Con.

That sounds cool. I went to Comic-Con for the first time last year when we were shooting The Simpsons special and I fell in love with the place, it was amazing.

It seems pretty crazy. It is such an incredible place and it is such a place of influence. Comic-Con has become so influential in pop culture. The world of movies, TV, graphic novels and comics, video games. Literally, they are the tastemakers of this generation. For me, doing a film about that would be just great.

Is there a dream project in the back of your mind you’d like to do sometime in the future? When I was a kid in the 11th or 12th grade, I read Brave New World and that was the book that I was like, oh God, I want to make that into a movie so bad one day. I would have dreams about it. I would literally dream about making that movie. I heard last year that DiCaprio’s making it with, is it Ridley Scott?

I’ve heard his name attached to that project at some point. I think it’s DiCaprio with Ridley Scott and it’s one of those things where I was like: Aww. Now I gotta come up with another dream project.

That would be an interesting match between story and director. I know. So if anybody’s still out there, reading this article and there’s an open directing assignment, please call me. I would do anything to make that movie.

I’ll see what I can do. Fight for me, fight for me.

Where Celebs Go Out: Penelope Cruz, Katie Couric, Gabrielle Union

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Broken Embraces:

● PENELOPE CRUZ – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, I have many because I love food so much!” And in Madrid? “I go to many that are out in the countryside, but whoever goes there for the first time should go to Botin. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world.” What did you like about it? “Everything!”

● PEDRO ALMODOVAR – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Mr. Chow’s — we had dinner there the other day, and it was really very impressive.” And in Madrid? “In Madrid, there are many. Casa Lucio is one of my favorites.”

● LAUREN BACALL – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, please, don’t ask me about that! I’m going to see a movie!”

● ANDREA ILLY – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Here we have many good restaurants: Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, these kind.” And in Rome? “In Rome, we also have many restaurants, like Lapergola — these kind of beautiful restaurants — or the Hotel de Russie, a beautiful place as well.”

At the Library of American Broadcasting’s Giants of Broadcasting Awards:

● KATIE COURIC – “I don’t really spend a lot of time hanging out in bars [laughs], which I think is a good thing. But I like BLT Steak because I’m a big carnivore. I like this really, beautiful restaurant outside Washington called L’auberge Chez Francois, where I took my parents on their anniversary. I love Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. Those are three good ones.”

● KEN BURNS – “Well, I like Burdick’s Restaurant in Walpole, New Hampshire. It’s been around since 2001. It is a small, little village in New Hampshire, but people quite often drive from New York or Boston. That’s four or three hours to have a meal there. The fact that I am a silent partner in it is part of full disclosure. I live in Walpole, New Hampshire; I travel a great deal, and I basically don’t cook anymore. I’ll eat every meal I can in this restaurant. It’s a broad mix of Continental cuisine done in a very informal and really charming atmosphere, and I don’t know anybody who has been there that hasn’t just fallen in love with it. The proprietor, the man whose genius it is, is Larry Burdick, the well-known chocolatier with a boutique chocolate business. He used to work here, as a dessert chef for many fine restaurants, and moved to our little village 15 years ago to manufacture his chocolates, which are second to none. But he and I had always complained that what we needed was a good restaurant, and we were able to do that.” What about in New York? “I like Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue between Bleecker and Houston. It’s next to Da Silvano, which gets a lot of attention. Bar Pitti is just quite simply the best Tuscan cuisine in the United States. It’s simple. Everyone who goes there knows about it. You can’t get a better side dish of spinach. The tagliata is amazing. Every dish — I’ve never had a bum dish there. And it’s sort of our go-to place. We bring the kids; we go late; we go early. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Capitalism: A Love Story:

● MICHAEL MOORE – What are some of your favorite restaurants or bars? “[Laughs] I don’t do commercials!”

● MORGAN SPURLOCK – “I love La Esquina ’cause it’s right next to my office. It’s this incredible restaurant, right on Kenmare and Centre Street and Lafayette. Amazing food, fantastic. I love Balthazar. I probably have lunch there once a week because my office is also very close to there. Puck Fair is probably my favorite bar in New York City — Irish bar. I love Puck Fair. I love just the energy. It’s probably the best pint in New York City. Yeah, it’s a great energy, great vibe.”

At the Quicken Online launch party for Bank of Mom and Dad:

● FARNOOSH TORABI – “Cafe Frida on Columbus Avenue & 77th Street for Mexican food.”

Spotted on Columbus Avenue, in town for Clinton Global Initiative:

● LISA LING – “My favorite place these days in L.A., which is where I live, is a place called Baby Blues Barbecue. It’s Southern-style barbecue, and it is comfort food. And over the last few months, I had been needing a lot of comfort, so it was a perfect kind of place to feed that desire and that craving.”

At the Sophie’s Voice benefit for spina bifida research:

● COUNTESS LUANN DE LESSEPS – “I was just at Jean Georges on Central Park West, which I haven’t been to in a long time, and it was so nice ’cause we got to sit outside and the weather’s still nice … so that’s one of my favorite places in New York. In Milan, Sant Ambroeus. They come from Milan, and they have a place in New York and Southampton.”

● GABRIELLE UNION – “Let’s start with Miami! They have this new place called Eight Ounce Burger that I love; love Il Gabbiano on the water, off of Biscayne; love the spa at the Mandarin. In L.A., there’s this place called Happy Foot on Ventura that gives, like, the most amazing foot and body rubs, but you’re fully clothed. It’s kind of awesome.”