One of the biggest names in animated movies, Cinco Paul has co-written the screenplays for Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and 3, Horton Hears A Who, Hop, The Lorax, and The Secret Life of Pets, among many others. Cinco and his writing partner, Ken Daurio, are giants in the field, who have now turned their eye on TV, while continuing to write blockbuster films. Join Aaron and Cinco for an in-depth convo about how to write with a partner, how to pitch comedy vs. drama, and where those damn minions come from.
Award-winning film director, writer, and producer Christopher Quinn’s new film, “Eating Animals,” based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s acclaimed nonfiction book, traces the environmental, economic and personal consequences — on human and nonhuman animals — of the rise of industrialized animal agriculture and of our country’s departure from local, sustainable farming. With bracing intelligence, empathy and imagination, the film explores the practical and ethical costs of cheap meat and profiles farmers and whistleblowers who have refused to do so. Quinn takes us behind the scenes of the film, shares his approach to storytelling and discusses why he believes the story of animal agriculture in America is important to tell.
Gavin is an incredibly talented non-fiction writer. Prolific on music and movies, he’s written entire books on Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, and River Phoenix. This last one brought Gavin’s well-researched and insightful work to Aaron’s attention. Gavin’s writing has been published in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Wired, among other outlets. Aaron is excited to talk to Gavin about his writing process, interacting with his famous subjects, and finally solving the mystery of how one gets in touch with Bill Murray.
Live on campus, Paul Attanasio, one of the most respected and successful TV/screenwriters of our time. Paul has created four TV series that have gone to air…and counting. One of ’em is Homicide: Life on the Street, a forebear of our current golden age. Paul was also behind House MD, one the most popular shows in the world for a time. Paul was Oscar-nominated for Donnie Brasco, a favorite among screenwriters. But throw all those other projects out, and Paul would still be one of Aaron’s heroes thanks to Quiz Show, the brilliant, layered, morality tale about the rigged game show scandals of the 1950s, directed by Robert Redford.
Join Aaron and Paul in front of a live audience at Yale for a fascinating conversation about Paul’s movies, shows, and craft.
In 2007, Dr. Irene Pepperberg said goodnight to her avian research subject, Alex, an African Grey Parrot. “You be good,” he replied. “I love you.” “I love you, too,” Dr. Pepperberg said, to which Alex asked, “You’ll be in tomorrow?” “Yes, I’ll be in tomorrow.” Alex died the next morning, prompting an international outpouring of grief that included an obituary in the Economist. We speak with Dr. Pepperberg, whose pioneering experiments with Alex revolutionized the field of avian cognition, about how she used communication as a window into his mind.
Twenty minutes southeast of Des Moines, Iowa, you’ll find a large, unassuming cement complex with fenced in grounds. You’d never know it, but inside are five bonobos—including the world-famous Kanzi—thought to be the only remaining nonhuman apes capable of communicating verbally with humans. We speak with Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh about what she’s learned from and about bonobos, humankind’s gentle cousins, during an extraordinarily ambitious, 30-year investigation into their minds.
Dr. Peter Godfrey-Smith is professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney and the author of Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and The Deep Origins of Consciousness. We discuss how our distant evolutionary cousins, cephalopods, are challenging ancient assumptions about the nature of consciousness. For more information about the episode and about Dr. Godfrey-Smith’s work, visit whenwetalkaboutanimals.org.
A few years ago, our guest, Dr. Natalie Kofler, was completing her postdoctoral training in molecular biology at Yale University. She was actively using CRISPR gene-editing technology to study the mammalian cardiovascular system to try to develop better tools to treat human vascular diseases. While attending talks on conservation biology at the Yale School of Forestry, she started to wonder: Could the invasive emerald ash borer be genetically edited with these same techniques to save American ash trees? Could coral reefs be genetically edited to be more resilient to warming waters? Should humans develop and use these technologies to change nature? If so, how? And who gets to decide?
Today Dr. Kofler is a leading thinker on these questions and an important voice on the potential environmental applications of gene-editing technologies — technologies that have the extraordinary potential to end malaria or to suppress Lyme disease, but also to change or delete entire species and to transform life in previously unimaginable ways. To think clearly about their use, she says, forces us to rethink who we are, to define what is important to us, and to reconsider how far our human knowledge of nature’s interconnectedness extends. Dr. Kofler serves as founding director of Editing Nature, a Yale University initiative that works to explore the potential environmental applications of newly developed and developing gene editing technologies, to promote public engagement around their use, and to strengthen the regulatory process to ensure these technologies are used responsibly. She is also the author of numerous scientific research papers, most recently as the lead author on a Science Magazine paper calling for a new global governance body to assure the just and informed evaluation of these technologies’ benefits and risks.
Listen as we are joined by Dr. Kristaps Keggi and Dr. Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu in a conversation with our Editor-in-Chief about the importance of mentorship in medicine, the role looking back at the history of medicine has at its advancements, Yale’s surgical firsts and Yale’s role in technological innovations in orthopedics!
Conversations with thinkers whose work has challenged us to rethink our place in the animal kingdom. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud.