Before Maz Jobrani was a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, he was an actor trying to get a break. On today’s show we’ll talk to the Iranian-born comedian about being typecast as a terrorist.

And like Maz, many Hollywood hopefuls get their start as extras, making less than minimum wage, hoping to be noticed. We’ll hear about an elite group who have made blending into the background an incredibly lucrative career.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Via Popular Science / bestofwhatsnew.popsci.com

For the past 27 years the editors of Popular Science have identified products and technologies designed to change our world. On today’s show we’ll review some of 2014’s groundbreaking technology.

Then, we’ve come to accept retouched images on magazine covers and billboard ads, but now the practice has moved to movies and television. We’ll take a look at the latest advancement in digital-alteration: frame-by-frame beauty work.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Tom Magliery via flickr Creative Commons

A montage of new ideas, picked fresh from the Word of Mouth vault:

  • Abolishing tips:  usually, the debate around gratuity revolves around whether to leave 15 or 20 %.... Head of the Sustainable Restaurant Project at the University of Guelph , Bruce McAdams,  is in favor of getting rid of tips altogether.
  • Balloon Brigade: the career aptitude test video game.  A new startup designs mobile games that could help match fresh grads with job opportunities. 
  • The science behind the buzz: journalist and science writer Joseph Stromberg explains caffeine addiction.

via wikimedia commons

Turbo is a big budget, animated, kid’s comedy about a snail’s dream to win the Indy 500, though the movie didn’t do as well as studios had hoped, one ecologist thinks it failed on a different level – accuracy. Fictional talking snail aside, Marlene Zuk argues that Turbo was another example in a long line of movies that misrepresent the biology of the animal kingdom. Marlene Zuk is an evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist and currently teaches at the University of Minnesota. Her recent opinion piece in the L.A. Times: “Animals to Hollywood: Get it Right” discusses the egregious errors filmmakers make when it comes to animals.

DVIDSHUB via flickr Creative Commons

The Pentagon has often played a role in shaping blockbuster films…at least those featuring tanks, ships, and other military gear. We wondered about the relationship between Hollywood and the D.O.D.…what do filmmakers have to do to get access to all that firepower?

To find out, producer Taylor Quimby called Sean McElwee. He’s a freelance writer who blogged about what studios that collaborate with the military have to give up – in terms of creative – and even ideological – control of their movies.

alanwoo via flickr Creative Commons

Nate Silver opened the public’s eyes to the power of predictive statistics… now, having already conquered politics, marketing, and social media, data-crunchers are taking on their next big challenge: Hollywood. Brooks Barnes is a media reporter for the New York Times – he recently wrote about Vinny Bruzzese, a statistician and former professor who’s using big data to slice and dice Hollywood screenplays


On Sunday, tens of millions of people worldwide will watch the dazzling gowns, jewels, and strained smiles on display at the eighty-fifth annual Academy Awards.  On Saturday, a much, much, much smaller audience will watch the Razzies!  For the 33rd year, film buffs and industry professionals gather to recognize the biggest flops, lamest performances, and most tired screenplays of the year.  It’s a dubious honor, but still, some, uh, winners do show up at the Razzies to accept their dis-honor...like Halle Berry for her worst-actress worthy performance in 2004's Catwoman (*note: the video contains some expletives).

lincolnblues via Flickr Creative Commons

Grab your ballots, Oscar weekend is coming up. This year's category for best actress includes a then-six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and eighty-six-year-old "Amour" actress, Emmanuelle Riva. Neither is considered a front-runner, but could that save their careers? It might, if you believe in...THE OSCAR CURSE.

Hollywood is dominated at the moment by the upcoming release of The Hunger Games, the first film adaptation of a phenomenally successful series of young adult novels set in a dystopian, divided America, where teenagers from different regions are pitted against each other for survival.

Photo by Aerrin99, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Independent producer John Lynch explores the increasing role of big-budget advertising in seducing the 30-something gamer generation to support the industry's Hollywood level profits. 

(Photo courtesy New York Time Out)

If you ever want to know the state of the American politics and culture at any point in the past hundred years, look to Hollywood. Casablanca (1942) reflects American patriotism and sense of purpose and belief in supporting the war effort and On The Waterfront (1954) gives a read on the Cold War anxieties that permeated American society. So what happened in American cinema after September 11th? We have film reviewer for New England Cable News Garen Daly with us to talk about what Hollywood has been reflecting back to us about that day since.