Norbert Leo Butz Is on the Long Haul
We have a favor to ask our partner is conducting a survey and would be grateful for your help and answering a few questions it'll take less than ten minutes of your time and your participation helps support report our advertisers. Please go to slate study dot com to complete the short survey now. This podcast may contain explicit language and feel free to use explicit language. When you review the gist on Itunes it helps other people find the show it's Friday October fourth two thousand nineteen nineteen from slate. It's the Gist I might ask Senator Marco Rubio when asked about Donald Trump to request that China investigate Joe Biden had some comments. It's now what I saw in that trump statement was an impeachable act Senator Rubio. He saw the comic stylings of Donald. Can I get a wall what trump I don't know. That's a real request him just needling the press knowing that you guys are going to get outraged by it. he's gotten. He's pretty good at getting everybody fired it up and he's been doing that for a while and the media responded right on right on right on task the senior. Senator Slash press critic doc didn't seem delighted by the president's antics but he was firmly assigning it to the entertainment section not the news. I think he did it to Gigi guys and I think he did it to provoke. You'd ask me and others and get outraged by it. Guy said I mean he he plays it like violin and every falls right interest not a real requests. Okay what this reminds me of trump's answer to the question. Well give me your changing story about the trump tower meeting and who wrote the talking points on the plane what about about the fact that your original explanation was ally and then when you said we don't have to tell the truth to the New York Times and what that reminded me of is the the other week when Corey Lewandowski appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and that was not true was it. I've no obligation beyond the media's because there's just as a sinuses us as anybody else dishonest media no obligation not to lie to the media. Here's the thing about lying lying to the media and not being honest with the media and gigging the media. The media is a plural of that's right. It's medium and medium is defined as a means of conveyance to an audience and in that audience are people the American people voters citizens sends including millions of citizens that you actually care about your voters saying I have no obligation to be honest with the media is the exact same thing a saying. I have no obligation to be honest with the people in poisoning people poisoning cartons of milk in the supermarket. What do we care about a stupid paper carton line cartons. I'm not creating a horrible stench. I am simply pooping and if that poop goes into my pence not say a toilet that is not my fault. I mean what are pants pants. Don't have olfactory glands. They can't smell. Why should I care about a pair of pants anyway. Stupid elitist pants. No I assume Senator Rubio believes what he's saying and that we should believe what he's saying and and not assume that he's lying out of I dunno despondents but how can we know because he was just saying it into a microphone. Whatever microphones they're just wires and metals else screw microphones on the show. Today I will feel about the question posed by two historians is the presidency of Donald Trump more dangerous risk than that of a past president who was actually impeached hint. It's not Bill Clinton but I well you ever hear of the baider-meinhof affect which is when you say I've never heard of the baider-meinhof of fact until I say baider-meinhof affect and then soon everywhere where you look and listen people be saying baider-meinhof affect all right. It's actually not the effect isn't about the fact is the effect is about the baider-meinhof terrorist band who either don't know about it then you hear about it and it seems to pop up everywhere let's update this for two thousand nineteen the PUPAE fact one day you've never heard of pupae pie then you hear about Pudi Pie and it turns out Cutie Pie is everywhere similar thing happened to me with Norbert the name Norbert and never think of the name Norbert maybe in that Eddie Murphy movie but then a very special thing happened and it caused me to begin seeing nor birt's everywhere I would read a profile elephant actress and she would say I don't know I'd WanNa do that but some guy in corporate named Norbert. Tell me not to Norbert and then I read all these stories about European politics politics that quote Norbert Oral ginn Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament was disgusted the phone transcript bitterly documents documents how trump behind the scenes exploits his power over a state president who is dependent on American support and worked for his private interests said Norbert wrote skin but why why all these Norbert S- I'll tell you it's because my guest Norbert Leo Butz is a great Broadway actor who is out with a new album of original songs the two time emmy winner stopped by the show to show that he's a quintupled threat singing dancing acting playing writing songs longs and sex topple. If considered Norbertine Norbert Leo Butz up next Ken Burns its name. That's become synonymous with documentary filmmaking. He's a master of his craft. The the timeless storyteller and now he's featured on that made all the difference a new podcast from Bank of America join host Alicia Burke as she talks to whichever's about the moments that inspired them to make an impact their stories might just inspire you to what would you like the power to do. You can find wind that made all the difference anywhere you get your podcasts. Norbert. Leo Butz is the SMUCKER's muckrakers of Broadway actors. You know with a name like that. It pretty much has to God now. If you don't know who Norbert Leo Butz is and I'm only going say Norbert Leo uh-huh Bots and other forty five times someone apparently thinks he some sort of combination of say Albert Finney you and McGregor Steve Martin and Leo Dicaprio and only mentioned those I four because he's played on Broadway characters. All of them have played in the movies Frank Abergnail and catch me if you can and Steve Martin Martin's Freddie and dirty rotten scoundrels and in big fish Norbert played the same role that Fenian McGregor had to combine to play in each of them to play the role that Norbert Kaleo Butts played. He's now out with a new album. Multi talented Guy singer-songwriter plays guitar two time Tony Winner. The long hauls the name of the album. He's here with me hello. Hey thanks so much. I didn't play the legal Narda to capture. I played the Tom Hanks role. Oh yeah yeah yeah that makes more sense yeah yeah yeah that was only a few years ago on C. weren't Abigail you were. I was the FBI guy trying to catch the Tom. Hanks part of his name was Carl Hanratty MHM in that story so you are not constantly on Broadway but in a typical year what's the breakdown of where Oh you're performing and what you're performing That's that's tough to answer done a lot of Broadway and it's all been a big mistake. I I mean in that one hundred percent. I tripped into this career. I came to New York in Nineteen Ninety six. I moved from Montgomery Alabama. Where I had finished finished a master's degree at the how yeah I was at a place called Alabama Shakespeare Festival. which is a big one? It's a big regional theater and they used to offer an MFA and Ah after I graduated actually stay down there. I started teaching acting and theater at at Auburn University and even move to New York until I was twenty nine and then I got stupid lucky. I came to New York. I'M GONNA move before I'm thirty before I go into fulltime academia. At the time. I was working with the band two. I was like yeah. I'll be a college college. Professor and I'll have a rock band on the side and that was the main yeah I really loved rock and Blues and it all through my twenties I played a ton of clubs clubs and parties and all that kind of stuff. I came up here. My ex wife and I moved up in the fall of ninety. Six musical rent had just opened on Broadway. I was asked by a friend to come and play a couple of tunes at a fundraising party for his off Broadway Theatre Company. The publicist for rent was in the audience audience said Hey. There's this huge musicals just opened on Broadway. They really need guys to cover the to lead guys rock and roll score. Their voices were just turned into hamburger each week week so they were casting. What we call under studies you know relief pitchers if you will and I went to a big cattle call the next day and within in like seven weeks after moving to New York City was playing the lead role in rant well at first. I was hired to play Roger Houser every Sunday so scheduled day off the correct pretty decent understudy job right some understudies never on it was great understudied shop in fact it was one of the best asked money gigs of my career because I made my salary and then I joined the cast about four or five months into the run a vet and like I said that show is just really ripping apart these singers a lot of them were kinda untrained rock singers and pop singers and stuff like that and so yeah had one scheduled performance a week and then the rest of the week. I was literally just waited in the Green Room in case you know he would call call in right and then they go by eight daylight. Go by what like seven forty five no you gotta stay until the middle of the second half or something like that and then go home but the guy I was covering. He's actually a good friend of mine. His name is Adam Pascal he was having some real vocal problems so I was going on to three or four times a week so I would make my salary and you make an eighth of his salary. Every time you go on I did that for for like six months and then they asked me if I would be a second cover off for the other guy for mark and I went on a couple of times in the producer really liked me in that role so then I would do mark a lot of times in the afternoon and Roger at night and that was a trip because I would be singing harmonies opposite myself l. from just a few hours earlier. I mean there's there's repertoire theater right and the theatre and repertory sometimes like I saw true West where the role the brother roles swished but I think they did it performance performance or three in a row you're right and it would mess with their heads a little you doing it same day. I know and I also covered covered three other guys in the unsolvable really and I tell you what man it was crazy but I loved it. They called me the launch of rent because that was constantly changing you know hair and facial hair and tattoos news and classes and I loved that because there that in cash in Phantom I know the obvious move for longevity. Yes right right right now. I've always had more of sort of a rock or blues or soul edge to my voice. I've never sort of fit super comfortably intellect classical musicals. I've tried and I've done a couple of them but after after work really hard to sound like super legit and Bertoni eleven s people might not realize the economics of Broadway because a ticket. It costs one hundred twenty dollars for the cheap ones but the reactor do not get paid well. My friend was on Broadway and was telling me that if you do a dance chance on a table because it's more challenging or dangerous you get an extra eighteen dollars a show. It's the truth need that eighteen bucks absolutely mad you know that brings up a whole huge subject but yeah man the economics of Broadway. Are there just impossible. I mean you have if you're an investor investor wanting to get money behind Broadway. Show you really do have better odds playing Keno in in Atlantic City then then you do in a Broadway musical and you're asking me before. Do I do a show each year. I would if I could but the fact of the matter is is I've done. I don't know like twelve Broadway shows. I've won onto Tony Awards and I almost went broke man. I had I have three kids. I can't afford a lot of times to do what I'm most trained to do because it's not just you gotta understand the pre-production to get a show to get a Hamilton or to get you know write a catch. Keke a Broadway show up. It's such a long process right. There's such a long gestation process and you got to sign up for the whole thing which means a five week rehearsal at which you paid minimum equity salary for those rehearsal now even to time hundred percent. It's called favored nations. Everybody makes the same thing in rehearsal right. Then you do an out of town run right you gotta go take it to a city Farro even farther both of them like to go far away so after show is a big stink bomb retool those as if we can hide in this day and age from when your show is really terrible but you go out of town and again again you work for favored nations you can put in a year a year and a half and then they may take a six month hiatus right before there's a theater available you can work a year a year and a half two years years before you even get to your first preview performance on Broadway which is when your quote unquote star salary would kick in so you got a year and a half of sweat in the game name now that show opens and this has happened to me seven out of the twelve shows. I've done eight. I've been too successful. Broadway shows all the rest. The my lost money on everybody lost money on the whole thing lost money you open. You've worked a year and a half two years. Maybe more review comes out. It's a Pan Yeah and and that shows closed in two weeks to three weeks so you've made your great salary. Yeah you've made your I lost a house because Ben Bradlee one time was it. Enron was not kill he killed. He's killed many of mine I can't say that he killed it. For whatever reason you know look it's an open open marketplace super competitive and which were the two dirty rotten scoundrels did that the only two shows. I've ever done that have made real real money. where the shows. I did the least I was in the original cast of wicked sure could shrink itching yeah continuing and I guess dirty scoundrels and that only made money after after the fact so that initial investment didn't make it's money back on Broadway but by the time it toured. That's when you can really make the bank because you're in front of four thousand seat theaters supposed supposed to nine hundred away from your family. If you're not that young kid yeah so I was listening to the new album the long haul and there are a couple songs there a couple of lyrics which I couldn't quite make out and the only reason even dwelled on that is it's extremely common for country or rock to put over over a lyric based more on the emotion of it and then you're like what are they saying. First Line of. I met a GIN soaked Barham Memphis. I had no idea what mic was saying for Twenty Years Yeah Yeah. I think it was. I think it's the if wishes were horses song and is there. What's the line about beggars. Were wishes were horses than beggars would ride yeah. I didn't exactly exactly no beggars would ride Broadway would ride the song we you know I i. I learned a ton making this record. I set myself the challenge. I almost abandoned the project a bunch of times but I've been writing writing in the closet as it were for a long time. I am and and urged by friend producer of mine. He's like man. Let's get these outlets. Get these out and we'd work on and and it'd be like I just I can't these are I had become comfortable singing behind a character. You know what I mean and he's like man you gotta get your stuff out there but one of the hardest things for me to to to make the transition to a pie high frequent high tech vocal. Mike in a booth as as opposed to singing with lava lear Mike in your wig in front of a rod low budget low at out big big frigate voice. I have a really big voice dude and so finding minding the restraint finding and maybe I tipped it sometime soon much finding the restraint leading the Mike do the work was a real challenge at the same challenge I had when I had been doing stage work for twenty years and in the past ten years I've been doing a lot more television in you got too far with the is knowing wing where you're at knowing what your meat understanding your medium That's a that's a steep learning curve I'm so grateful that I feel like I I I've had like I said I've had the experience as it just means more workers available for me but it's a tough tough learning curve specially for actors in the theatre specially for musical theater actors just because you're right man. It's a full body. It's a full body experience. It doesn't surprise me that you wrote these songs while working on a TV project because seems like it might be hard to eight days a week be spe- in one musical form you know you're singing musical and then to just go back and right in a different entirely different form it would mess with the process. I would imagine one hundred percent yeah when I'm doing a run of play especially I cannot. I cannot work work on other music. you're so right about that. One year is a constantly. I see a lot of analogies between sports and performance and the performance you yeah. I mean you know even if you are. You're pinch hitting. If if you might be be a relief pitcher that that that is way down in the pitching that night you can you can make the best plan you can but you're not gonna be able to sit over. There and I don't know do Sedukh. Oh concentrate on a on a novel. Do you know what I mean. You've got to stay in tune with the rhythm of that game and that's very true of live theater you. I have to so even if I'm off stage for a long time to show I gotTa have one one ear on the can at all times. It's like you have to stay in character or anything like that but it's staying in the building one time I was doing my fair lady at Lincoln Center and had a really big break between scenes like an hour and forty five minute break and play you play the Dad Right. I played the church on time. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah and they had this big break and so I would go down to the basement of Lincoln Center where they have this incredible piano and I'd sit down and I'd play and lose myself. Alf and I did that one time. When I heard over the loudspeaker norbert books stage left Norbert Hush up stairs your heart's going on like never again never get everything that age on time well. That's the that's the part of me man. I'm distracted but when I'm in somethin' I go deep and Yeah you're right about that. It's really really hard. You brought Qatar so I thought we would ask you. Would you like to play for us. I'll play a snippet of something yes I will and this will be what this tune that I wrote for my wife. It's called South Mountain Waltz. It's unabashedly romantic. I married a wary wonderful woman. In a I thought I should do one album one song on the album for her so this is the one his sons Turmes's mountains of Blah. You feel you breathe your audie skin. I'm wrestler us all it is and across. I four from door. We fly through learn Aidan do glen. It's three times in we do again. has sunsets skies starts to Indonesia the ground ED my fee breeze US yeah scan the the floor seeing now we fly to he didn't do three recorder. We do again stuff very nice do it for the applause Norbert. Leo Butz is out with a new album called the long haul twelve songs that he wrote that he plays on Broadway way mainstay. I guess the latest film or TV project Fosse Verdon. It's still out there and his new film loose with Octavia Spencer. The answer is also out in theaters now norbert great to meet you you too man. Thanks for having me. Thanks a lot doc and now the trump is self impeaching. I think the phrase gives them too much credit like this guy could ever rangel a majority vote in the house in two thirds vote in the Senate anyway. He is incriminating himself every day but when an idiot criminal admits to the crimes. We don't say he self prosecuting. I mean that takes training and knowing knowing things and bring it all up because yesterday was another big day of terrible revelations for what looked like the pre impeachment moments of the trump presidency but you know what made me livid now. It wasn't wasn't the China thing it was Andrew Johnson an op Ed in the Washington Post arguing headline. Why Donald Trump is much. It's more dangerous than Andrew Johnson sub head while both presidents are demagogues who faced impeachment. Today's political reality means that trump can do more for damage now the authors Sidney M Milkis and Daniel J tricky nor to historians do have a decent case to make not decent enough but but it's basically this the powers of the president then compared to the powers of the presidency now they're really incompatible to cite one example which they didn't do in their piece but that I happen to know and I find it shocking the Justice Department the head of which is apparently gallivanting about the globe trying to scare up op research over the two thousand sixteen eighteen race anyway the hundred thousand Plus Department of Justice Gas how many members had had in Andrew Johnson's time zero didn't exist exist until created under US grant also and this is part of the MILKIS traynor argument partisan ships huge partisanship ship means any politician with party backing will be more powerful today because the Andrew Johnson was a Democrat and Republican who had no backing among Republicans begins in other words Johnson had no base trump has a base basis everything these days therefore trump more dangerous here. Now is why they're wrong wrong. Andrew Johnson inhabited the presidency at a crucial inflection point. US history he was responsible and in some cases solely responsible for inflicting it in the wrong direction he led the confederate states back in the union with almost no consequence he vetoed civil rights legislation the fourteenth the amendment was relatively toothless because of him he was the author of by designer neglect the shameful reconstruction period that have done differently. I'm not saying perfectly but if done differently as general grant wanted would've had an immeasurable positive effect on America the other point is and this goes right at those two historians points about partisanship the replacement for Donald Trump will be mike pence who will will carry out a partisan Republican policy agenda in fact he'd probably better at it than the distracted and dissolute put trump but the replacement for Johnson would have been Benjamin Wade. Benjamin Wade was the speaker pro tem of the Senate. The rules of succession accession were different than Johnson didn't have a VP having ascended after the assassination of Lincoln Wade was next in line wade was what they call a radical Republican. That's what they called it at the time but here's what was radical about him. In eighteen sixty eight he was radically against the fugitive slave act he he was radically for women's suffrage and he literally believed in the equality of African Americans. So what I'm saying is this radical meant that he was on the right side of history and would have been as great an improvement over the sitting president as Christopher Nolan was over Joel Schumacher as Batman director actor and I'm GonNa say the stakes of eighteen sixty eight America were even higher than Batman shoutout to all UCONN nerds. I would go as far as to say that if I could pick one president history to be impeached too wasn't I would pick Andrew Johnson who almost got impeached by one vote. It might be hard to believe you know. Things worked out pretty good for for America. At least that's what they told me as a kid but I think they would have been so much better not perfect but just so much better than the horror they were under Johnson. I think they would have been better petr under wade he would have had more of a positive effect than the difference between trump and pence may be impossible to know. I bow to recency recency bias. I also bowed to Donald Trump is he has a lot of it and by the way you could argue as history ripples through time that if the terms was of reconstruction weren't so disastrous maybe a force like donald trump wouldn't have existed I also WANNA quote something from Brenda wine houses great book. Look the impeaches about this time it pretty good argument that Johnson actually was pretty powerful. This is a quote from the abolitionist. Wendell Phillips who was publisher of the national anti-slavery newsletter with a cabinet composed of all his adherence all enemies to the nation and its loyal inhabitants with a treasury full of money a large secret service fund at his disposal with military officers in command at the South sympathizing empathizing with his views a general of the army so hedged round with military etiquette with a large southern population seething with rebellion hordes of secret secret societies. They're only waiting for the signal to spring two arms. Why can't the president do in all this time indeed and you might not be able to tell but I'm really really into the impeachment an ultimate acquittal of the coward Andrew Johnson in fact. I would like to end by reading one. One of my favorite quotes all right. Here's the context this is about Edmund Ross. He's the Kansas senator who voted to acquit the final vote in that one margin vote wrote that kept the angry intemperate Tennessean in the White House then what you need to know is that Ross took office after the sitting Kansas Senator James Lane shot himself committed suicide for reasons still unknown after Ross's fatal vote misinterpreted as a profile wiling courage by John F. Kennedy but really a decision made out of either cowardice or craven this after the Ross vote kept Johnson and office a telegram came to Ross it was written by a member of the Kansas Supreme Court. It was not a compliment the telegram read in full probably the rope with which Judas hanged himself lost but the pistol with which James Lane shot himself is at your service and that is eighteen sixty eight for burn sun room and that's it for today show that just was produced by Daniel schrader under who plays as thaddeus Stevens work on that hallowed out Glare Kid Christina Deg- Osa produce the gist all by herself today. She just requested look Mike. Can you dwell in eighteen sixty eight and this time we can maybe move onto the Twentieth Century Next Time Share Yeah Twentieth Century will be easy to words McKinley Leon troll Gosh Donnybrook the jest perhaps the swamp that visited a pestilence upon William Henry Harrison and is cleared but the poop within the Lewandowski trousers obtains Peru Peru and thanks for listening.