Category Archives: TV

Taraji P. Henson on ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Empire’ and Being Cookie

Taraji P. Henson doesn’t like getting bored. She’s had an exciting career run lately, starring in the hit movie “Hidden Figures” and continuing her star turn as Cookie in the TV series “Empire.” She stopped by the WSJ Cafe recently and she told me in an interview that she’s already thinking about her career after “Empire” because she enjoys the challenge of playing new characters. Could a superhero role be in her future? Watch the videos.

Mandy Moore on Jack’s Death, Her Music, and ‘This Is Us’

I’m trying to reverse-engineer episodes of “This Is Us” to figure out how the NBC drama manages to wring so much emotion out of every episode. I got some insight into the show when co-star Mandy Moore stopped by the WSJ Cafe to talk about her role on “This Is Us,” how she landed the gig, and what we need to know about the death of Jack on the show. Here are the clips:

Mandy Moore previews the first season finale of “This Is Us”:

Mandy Moore on how Jack dies (no spoilers!):

My full interview with Mandy Moore:

‘Luke Cage’ Star Mike Colter on Hoodies, Harlem and Superheroes

“Luke Cage” star Mike Colter stopped by the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Cafe to talk to me about why Black superheroes matter. We also talked about hoodies, Harlem and whether The Defenders (that’s Cage’s superhero crew) might someday match up with the better-known Avengers. If you’ve been binging on the new series “Luke Cage,” which was recently released on Netflix, or if you’re a Marvel fanboy or fangirl, you’re going to want to watch this on-camera interview.

‘Outlander’ Star Caitriona Balfe Explains How to Travel to France on a Budget

The Starz TV series “Outlander” took a turn this season when the Scotland-based show suddenly turned up in France. Turns out, though, that the cast and crew filmed many of the Paris-set scenes in Prague and on sound stages…in Scotland. I decided to have the star of the show, Caitriona Balfe, stop by the WSJ Cafe to explain the whole thing to me. She also talked a bit about her coming movie “Money Monster.” Watch the video.

CNBC’s Sharon Epperson Poses Questions at GOP Debate on Student Loans, Retirement

My favorite moments at this week’s GOP debate were when my wife, CNBC senior personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson, challenged the candidates to confront two of the biggest issues facing America: student loans and retirement. Nobody wants to talk about retirement in part because it’s hard to face up to the idea of getting old, and many folks don’t want to talk about student loans because we’re filled with guilt about failing our young. Retirement and student loans may not be sexy subjects, but they are just the kind of important issues candidates need to grapple with during an election year. “This country has over $100 billion in student loan defaults–that’s billion with a b,” Sharon said during the debates, before posing her question. “What will you do to make sure that students, their families, taxpayers, won’t feel the economic impact of this burden for generations?” Here are the videos of the questions Sharon posed to the GOP candidates.

Danai Gurira AKA Michonne on ‘The Walking Dead’ Season Premiere

I spent the summer binge-watching every episode of “The Walking Dead,” and all that time in front of the tube paid off. Actress Danai Gurira, who co-stars as Michonne on “The Walking Dead,” stopped by the WSJ Café to talk to me about the new season of the show. Gurira also discussed her play at the Public Theater, “Eclipsed,” that deals with civil war in Liberia and stars Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o.

For more, go to the WSJ Cafe.

‘I Am Chris Farley': My Life As a Fat White Man

ComicChrisFarley1There’s a new documentary out called “I Am Chris Farley.”

I haven’t seen the movie, and probably never will.

You see, I am Chris Farley.

Chris Farley–the subject of the new documentary–is white, fat and dead.

Chris Farley–the author of this essay–is black, runs a couple miles a day to avoid obesity, and is very much alive.

This Chris Farley wants his name back.

In the age of social media, names matter. Establishing an identity before someone else grabs it is important. @KanyeWest is a brand name. @KanyeWest73 is just jumping on the bandwagon. You know that line from the theme song of the sitcom “Cheers”? “You want to go where everybody knows your name”? The web is the opposite of “Cheers”–nobody knows anybody’s name, not for certain. Nobody knows if the person they’re communicating with is really who they say they are, or if they really know what they’re talking about. When you have a name that people recognize and respect and can verify, it elevates you above all the folks who are Tweeting and Instagramming and Facebooking, because it gives your opinions some credibility.

As a journalist, novelist and film producer I’ve spent a lot of time building up my name–only to see it taken away by someone I never met.

I knew I was going to have trouble with the other Chris Farley the first time I went to meet Chris Rock back in the early 1990s. Both of them were serving as cast members at “Saturday Night Live,” and I was working across the street at Time magazine and had to see Rock for work. The security guard at the desk downstairs at 30 Rock didn’t believe me when I gave him my name and things quickly devolved into a “Who’s on First” routine. “You’re not Chris Farley,” the guard declared to me.

Not long after that, I accidentally got a script in the mail for a big-screen version of the “SNL” sketch “Coneheads.” Someone had been trying to send it to the other Chris Farley and it wound up at my apartment instead. The script was terrible, so I figured I was doing the other Farley a favor by not passing it on. Not that I had his address. He was already so famous, it was unlisted.

But when the other Chris Farley died of drug overdose in 1997 at the age of 33 part of me died too. The jokes I used to get from office receptionists and switchboard operators and reservation takers at restaurants–”You don’t look like Chris Farley!” “Isn’t Chris Farley white?” “Isn’t Chris Farley dead?”–began to fade away with his memory.

You know what? Maybe I will see “I Am Chris Farley” after all. I used to feel threatened by the other Chris Farley. We all have the feeling that no matter how hard we’re working, we’re not doing as much as we could with our lives. When somebody who shares our names becomes more famous, it feels like proof that we’ve failed do as much we could have with what we were given. If someone with the same name managed to make it big, what’s my excuse?

The other Chris Farley has been dead for almost 20 years now, and maybe, with this new movie,  it’s time to let go of this weird competitive feeling I’ve always had with him, and to be thankful for the things that have gone right in my life. If I had shared a name with another celebrity comedian, one who was a little less white and a little more alive, things might have been even more confusing.

I’m sure glad my name is Chris Farley and not Chris Rock.

Check out my new novel “Game World.”

I Play the ‘Game of Thrones’ with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The fifth season of “Game of Thrones” has arrived, and I recently had a chat with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who co-stars as Jaime Lannister on the HBO fantasy series. I shot a video of the conversation for the WSJ Cafe, an arts and culture conversation series that I host, and I wrote a short blog post about it. Here’s the full interview below. For more go to WSJ.com/WSJCafe and follow me on Twitter @cjfarley. Did I mention I have a fantasy book for kids called “Game World“?