Press Play with Madeleine Brand-logo

Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.


Santa Monica, CA




Host Madeleine Brand looks at news, culture and emerging trends through the lens of Los Angeles.




‘Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó’: Oscar nominee shows special bond between grandmas

Sean Wang’s Oscar-nominated short documentary, “Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó,” follows the daily lives of his two grandmothers who live together and care for each other. As Congressman Adam Schiff eyes a promotion to the Senate, 15 candidates are vying to replace him in the House. Who are the top contenders ahead of the primary? Five years ago, Saturday Night Live fired comedian Shane Gillis after revelations that he made racist and homophobic jokes on his podcast. But this weekend, he's scheduled to host the iconic comedy show. Critics review the latest film releases: “Drive-Away Dolls,” “About Dry Grasses,” “Perfect Days,” and “Io Capitano.”


Kayaking in Death Valley: National park now has a 6-mile-long lake

The deluge of rain over California has created a unique, shallow lake in California's Death Valley National Park. Rangers are now welcoming kayakers. Could a gondola from Union Station to Dodger Stadium — about half a billion dollars to build — mitigate traffic? The LA Metro board will vote Thursday on whether to proceed. Amid the war in Gaza, Biden is losing support among Arab American voters — a key demographic that helped deliver his 2020 victory in states like Michigan and Georgia. In “Island in Between,” Leo Chiang explores how residents in Taiwan feel about the country’s relationship with China and the United States. Looking for scones, finger sandwiches, and loose-leaf tea? Good Food host Evan Kleiman gives recommendations on where to get afternoon tea in LA.


‘Feud’ captures Truman Capote’s fall from grace in New York society circles

High-society women in 1960s New York, known as the Swans, befriended writer Truman Capote until his tell-all in Esquire. Their saga is depicted in Ryan Murphy's series “Feud.” Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn argues that the status quo between Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably lead to more violence in the future, even after the war. With the murder of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, what's next for those against President Putin? Navalny’s wife says she'll take up her husband's cause. A new redistricting map in Wisconsin could undo a decade-plus of Republican control in the state's legislature. And an Alabama Supreme Court decision says frozen embryos are children.


What do kids lose when book bans are in place?

“The ABCs of Book Banning” is an Oscar-nominated short documentary about the recent push by conservative states and school districts to ban books about race and gender identity on campuses Eighty-three Palestinian journalists and counting have died while documenting Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Here are their stories. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual report says more journalists died in Gaza in just three months than in any single country over the span of a year — the most ever recorded. Critics review the latest film releases: “Bob Marley: One Love,” “Madame Web,” “Drift,” and “This is Me… Now.”


In Oscar-nominated short, barber launches a bank to help close wealth gap

The Oscar-nominated short documentary “The Barber of Little Rock” follows Arlo Washington, a barber who is trying to close the wealth gap in the city. As Katie Porter exits her House seat, two Democrats vying to replace her are airing nasty attack ads. Could this swing the district back to a Republican? In “Filterworld,” author Kyle Chayka examines how algorithms built into apps like Instagram, Spotify, and Netflix dictate our choices and erode our individual taste. Red velvet cake tends to come up during Valentine’s Day. Beyond all the food coloring, the pastry’s biggest characteristic is its slightly tart flavor.


‘I see it as winning’: Singlehood on Valentine’s Day has its perks

Peter McGraw, a 53-year-old singleton and author of “Solo,” talks about the benefits of being uncoupled, especially on Valentine’s Day. Violent crime in Oakland increased by more than 20% last year. Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is teaming up with Gov. Gavin Newsom to address the issue. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. co-opted his uncle’s famous 1960 campaign ad for a Super Bowl spot. Many members of his family aren’t happy about it. True crime TV went from humble beginnings to global fame. Why are audiences so drawn to “America’s Most Wanted” and “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story?”


Meet one of the first same-sex couples married in San Francisco

San Francisco made history when it began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples 20 years ago. KCRW hears from one of the first 10 couples to get married that day. Composer John Williams received his 54th Oscar nomination this year. He’s known for music in blockbusters such as “Star Wars” and “Jaws.” KCRW looks at his smaller-scale tracks. A media frenzy ensued following last week’s special counsel report questioning Biden’s mental faculties. Is this deluge of coverage fair? State Supreme Court rulings on gun control and abortion rights rebuke recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.


Every bit of ‘The Taste of Things’ is ‘scrumptious,’ says critic

Critics review the latest film releases: “The Taste of Things,” “Lisa Frankenstein,” “Skeletons in the Closet,” and “Suncoast.” SCOTUS justices seem skeptical of Colorado’s decision to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the primary ballot. Their decision is crucial for the 2024 election. Designed to quickly channel water out to sea, the LA River protects lives and property but limits how much rain percolates into groundwater reservoirs. Taylor Swift’s romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is bringing even more eyeballs to America’s most-watched TV event — the Super Bowl.


NASA's JPL braces for layoffs, Mars missions at risk amid budget cuts

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to lay off 500 employees and dozens of contractors. How will that affect space exploration? For decades, the promise of higher education was the recipe for success. But many people today are now searching for an alternative to traditional college. A bipartisan immigration bill is paralyzing Congress. It leaves billions in aid for Ukraine in limbo, as their war with Russia grinds on. Congress is stalling on more funding for Israel, which has been the largest recipient of U.S. aid of any country since its founding in 1948. Israel relies on that money to wage its war in Gaza. The pineapple bun is a flaky, fluffy, and crumbly Hong Kong Cantonese snack. It’s made from a milk bread dough that’s enriched with butter, sugar, and eggs.


Current SoCal storm has brought as much rain as a hurricane, says scientist

“The Big One” in California often refers to an earthquake. But seismologist Lucy Jones warns of another “Big One”: sustained rain storms that overwhelm flood control systems. Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier is one of the fastest deteriorating glaciers in the world. But some researchers say they may have figured out a way to save it. Bipartisan group of senators announced an immigration deal with added funds for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Despite initial optimism, it’s now likely to fail. The 20-minute “In Living Color” special from 1992 paved the way for a modern Super Bowl halftime show. It featured young stars such as Jim Carey and Damon Wayans.


How is heavy rain affecting LA business owners, unhoused residents?

Parts of LA County are getting half a year’s worth of rain in a single storm. Santa Monica Mountain communities like Topanga and Malibu are getting hit the hardest. The 14th Amendment bans insurrectionists from holding political office. The Supreme Court will soon determine if that applies to former President Donald Trump. Trillions of dollars worth of lithium could be bubbling up from the ground in the Imperial Valley, which is one of the hottest and poorest areas of California. The Afro-Cuban musician Daymé Arocena has been a staple in Latin Jazz for nearly a decade. She’s now breaking barriers with her new pop album, “Alkemi.”


California agrees to $2 billion pandemic education settlement

California will spend $2 billion to address learning loss, settling a lawsuit that alleged it violated children’s rights to equal education during the pandemic. Senators berated Mark Zuckerberg and four other social media CEOs on child safety and their platforms. But there’s no consensus on legislation to address it. Middle-class Chinese immigrants are showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most are trying to flee the communist government's authoritarian crackdown on dissent. UV light is a revolutionary tech that could crush viruses before they strike. So why aren't we embracing it? Critics review the latest film releases: “Argylle,” “How to Have Sex,” “Scrambled,” and “Orion and The Dark.”


SoCal-based Claremont Institute drives anti-DEI efforts on colleges

The Claremont Institute, a conservative Southern California think tank, helped spearhead a national campaign to ban DEI on public college campuses. Palestinian anger is growing in the West Bank. Settler attacks and police raids are feeding into concerns that the war will turn into a bigger conflict. The Israel-Hamas conflict is damaging U.S. President Biden's standing with young voters, who overwhelmingly support a ceasefire. Will it cost him the election? Right-wing provocateurs have lasered their sights on Taylor Swift as part of a conspiracy theory involving a rigged Super Bowl and an endorsement for Joe Biden. The heart of harissa — a spice paste — is cumin, coriander, and caraway. It gives nuance and soul to the North African dish shakshuka.


‘Casablanca,’ ‘The Godfather’: What makes films the most popular?

People watch certain films repeatedly, and not all are masterpieces. “The Power of Film” explores why. The docu-series is based on Howard Suber’s book of the same name. Neuralink’s co-founder Elon Musk says the first human has received one of their brain implants. It has some promise, but also carries risk. Apple's new Vision Pro headset debuts this week with a retail price of $3,500. What does it do, who is it for, and is it worth it? Boeing’s Max 9 jets are back in operation after a weeks-long investigation. But the company faces a steep task of restoring the public’s trust. Internet meme lords have turned their attention to a mass-produced, mid-priced California wine that shares a name with the most average guy you know — “Josh.”


Rockstar musician is voiceless in ‘Last Days’ opera

Gus Van Sant’s film about musician Kurt Cobain’s final days has been adapted into an opera that will make its U.S. debut with the LA Phil this week. The U.S. says an Iran-backed militia launched a drone attack in Jordan that killed three American service members and injured nearly three dozen more. More than a dozen countries have paused funding for a United Nations program aiding Palestinians in Gaza. Israel claims some of the agency’s workers are tied to last year’s Hamas attack. Assemblyman Vince Fong is running for former Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s seat. He’s also on the ballot to keep his state Assembly seat, which is illegal under California law. Grocery stores will no longer sell Knott’s Berry Farm jams and jellies. Smucker’s purchased this iconic Southern California brand in 2008.


Film reviews: ‘Tótem’ ultimately gives emotional relief

Critics review the latest film releases: “Miller's Girl,” “Tótem,” “The Breaking Ice,” “The Sweet East.” As the war in Gaza rages on, negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage release remain stalled. KCRW looks at how the U.S. and Qatar could help broker a deal. New films starring Kieran Culkin, Will Ferrell, and Kristen Stewart were among the crowd favorites at this year’s Sundance. But is it all buzz? The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers hired Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach. His older brother John’s Baltimore Ravens take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.


‘Racist Trees’ chronicles debate about race and real estate

A row of tall trees separating a golf course from a historically Black neighborhood in Palm Springs is the subject of a new PBS documentary called “Racist Trees.” The stock market is booming, driven primarily by tech stocks. And yet these same companies are looking to continue mass layoffs in the next few months. San Diego residents are still reeling from a heavy and rapid downpour that started on Monday morning. Is Southern California built to withstand storms like this? “Barbie” scored eight Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture. But noticeably absent were Margot Robbie for Best Actress and Greta Gerwig for Best Director. There are many ways of making hot chocolate. Thick, thin, creamy, spicy, super-chocolatey, luxurious with cream and milk — there is a type that suits your needs.


LA Times grapples with massive layoffs, undefined identity

​​The LA Times said today that it will lay off more than 20% of the newsroom. Owner Patrick Soon-Shiong said the paper has been losing $30 to 40 million annually. Top candidates to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the U.S. Senate debated on Monday. Three Democrats largely attacked former LA Dodger Steve Garvey, who's running as a Republican. The genre “normporn” includes sedate, soothing family dramas that usually grapple with race and sexuality as a nonissue, and show a fantasy of what family should be. With state governments largely abdicating any role in getting kids back into classrooms, some schools have turned to private companies for a reimagined version of the truant officer.


Inside June Carter’s prolific music career, before and after Johnny Cash

The documentary “June” features never-before-seen archival material of June Carter, who boasted a prolific music career solo and with Johnny Cash. Biden is leaning into abortion politics to boost Democratic turnout for the presidential election. Kamala Harris is in Wisconsin to draw attention to the issue. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s leading a big election interference case against former President Trump, faces allegations that she had an affair with the special prosecutor she hired to manage the case. More than 12 million Americans take Singulair. For decades, doctors and regulators ignored alarming side effects like aggressive behavior and suicidal thoughts. Stanford University’s Tara VanDerveer has broken the all-time record for the amount of games any college basketball coach has won — man or woman. How did she do it?


Sweet Lady Jane: What’s behind the closure of this famed LA bakery?

After 35 years, LA bakery Sweet Lady Jane shut down on New Year’s Day. It’s the latest local favorite to close, following the fate of Animal and Mohawk Bend. The Los Angeles Times could be planning a massive round of layoffs. The news follows the departure of Executive Editor Kevin Merida earlier this month. People can still go to work or school if they have COVID but no symptoms, says the California Health Department. It cites vaccinations, natural immunity, and Paxlovid as its reasoning. Critics review the latest film releases: “I.S.S.,” “The End We Start From,” “The Kitchen,” and “Founder’s Day.”