Almost every day, our program ends with a "Talking Point," about something interesting that’s not leading the news. Today, a collection of favorite conversations with the authors of unusual books. One writer describes the dirt — and the dignity -- of global recycling. That Nike shoe box you just threw out might be the same one you threw out last year. We hear how Chinese movie-goers affect what’s at your local theater, and peek inside the fully furnished — but unoccupied -- house of an eccentric millionaires. Finally a tale of recovery and redemption. What did one Jewish writer buy for the children of the terrorist who tried to kill his wife?
FROM THIS EPISODE
Michael Moss is an investigative reporter for the New York Times. In his latest book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, he describes a meeting in 1999, in which the heads of 11 major food companies discussed America's growing weight problem. Should they change their formulas to prevent increased obesity? The answer was, "no," and since then, they've gone on to develop sophisticated new ways of getting more customers — including children -- to eat more and more.
Last month, we spoke to Adam Minter, Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View and a familiar voice on this program. He's also the author of Junkyard Planet, a book about an industry that supported generations of his own family: the recycling business.
When New York's massive middle-class apartment complex Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village was sold in 2006, it was the biggest real estate deal in history: $5.4 billion — most of which came from outside investors. But from Day One, the purchase had problems. In April we talked to the author Charles Bagli, who chronicles the sale and its aftermath in Other People's Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made.
Charles Bagli, New York Times
Charles V. Bagli
We recorded a story in September about extraordinary wealth that's led to a courtroom fight over one of America's great, but often forgotten, fortunes. Bill Dedman is a reporter who was looking for a house outside New York City. He and his wife were amusing themselves with real estate listings so big they boggled the mind. Then they discovered a place in New Canaan, Connecticut — reduced from $35 to just $24 million. This was in 2009 — but, when they visited, they discovered the house had not been occupied since the owner bought it in 1951. Dedman has captured the mystery of it all in Empty Mansions.
Since that interview aired in September, a tentative settlement was reached in the matter of Huguette Clark's will. Under the deal, her family gets $34.5 million; her lawyer and accountant get nothing; and her nurse will keep more than $30 million. The mansion in Santa Barbara would become a foundation to support the arts.
In our final Talking Point segment today involves a conversation back in July about a sea change in the movie business. Former reporter Linda Obst became a novelist, then turned to producing more than 16 feature films, including How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Fisher King, The Seige and One Fine Day. She's written about her experience in the entertainment industry in Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business, about why the big movie studios have become addicted to comic book characters and sequels and turn a deaf ear to original ideas.
In October, we spoke with David Harris-Gershon, whose wife, Jamie, was almost killed by a Palestinian bomber several years ago in Jerusalem. Others were killed. When the bomber was tried, neither Jamie nor David wanted to go to the courtroom. But after they'd moved back to the US and had two children, David was still haunted by the event. The result is the book What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?